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United States Prison System
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 5:33 pm    Post subject: United States Prison System Reply with quote

I have seen a handful of articles lately, mostly through AJA but also through other media sources, that are painting a potentially disturbing portrait of the jail and prison system we have in the United States. Consider:

The new system of putting money onto an inmate's account, as well as being the pre-paid debit card they may use upon release. There are high fees attached to this card for nearly everything: putting money on the card, taking money off the card, checking the balance, closing the account and putting the money into a regular bank account, even fees for inactivity--yes, they get charged money for not using the card. Many of the jails and prisons which have converted to this system receive incentives for putting inmates on these cards--in other words, they receive kickbacks from the card issuer.

Going to see an incarcerated family member is beginning to be discouraged and is being replaced by a video chat system]a video chat system. For 5 minutes of face time the system charges users anywhere from $5 (the lowest number found) to $29.95 (which is insane). Yes, this can increase security by preventing visitors from passing things along to inmates like drugs or weapons but this system is not punishing the people in the jails; rather, it is punishing the family of the person who is incarcerated. Why should they have to pay just to see a family member, no matter what crime they may have committed?

The very concept of "for profit" prisons, which essentially requires housing as many inmates as possible in order to maximize profits. This particular article highlights conditions at a CAR (criminal alient requirement) prison located in Willacy County, Texas. According to the article, most of the inmates there are being detained for illegal reentry into the United States and/or small drug-related offenses. This particular unit has a history of problems, though: many inmates are housed in tents (which, given the location in extremely far South Texas near the coast can range from "comfortable" to "sweltering"), hunger strikes, toilet plumbing problems, putting all newcomers into solitary confinement (you may also be sent to solitary for asking for more food), and cramped conditions (some reports state that when lying down in a bunk an inmate's feet may be touching the bunk next to them).
The primary drive behind for-profit prisons is the lockup quota; here is a short article on lockup quotas, which includes a link to a 15-page report on for-profit prisons. As could be expected, for-profit prisons require a larger population because more beds filled equals more profit. The thing of which I was not aware were penalties assigned for unused beds, the so-called "low crime" tax--penalties which cities, counties, and States must pay if they fail to meet the lockup quota. This forces governments at the local to State level to force district attorneys and judges to favor longer sentences for crimes to meet the quota.

With the continuing trend of crime rates dropping, a fact verified by the FBI's own statistics, is it wise to have policies or contracts in place requiring that a certain number of people be in prison just so a corporation can meets its bottom line?

Look at it another way. We have a population who are incarcerated (yes, typically for things they have actually done but the reason they are there is irrelevant), meaning that they cannot leave, move on, or opt out of being incarcerated and we have another group of people who are making money on those who are incarcerated. In what way is this not slavery? Sure, the inmates chose to be there because of the crimes they committed but does that give a corporation the right to make money from them or to squeeze money from their families by charging outrageous fees for video chat visitation or pre-paid debit cards?

We need Sarge to give his input on this issue which directly effects him. Well, it may not directly effect him since his unit may not have such a contract but I bet he knows people who work at units who have these types of contracts.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Everything is a business these days it seems. And yes, if not slavery in fact then at least some sort of indenture. Not cool.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 11:07 pm    Post subject: Re: United States Prison System Reply with quote

Hashi Lebwohl wrote:
I have seen a handful of articles lately, mostly through AJA but also through other media sources, that are painting a potentially disturbing portrait of the jail and prison system we have in the United States. Consider:

The new system of putting money onto an inmate's account, as well as being the pre-paid debit card they may use upon release. There are high fees attached to this card for nearly everything: putting money on the card, taking money off the card, checking the balance, closing the account and putting the money into a regular bank account, even fees for inactivity--yes, they get charged money for not using the card. Many of the jails and prisons which have converted to this system receive incentives for putting inmates on these cards--in other words, they receive kickbacks from the card issuer.

Going to see an incarcerated family member is beginning to be discouraged and is being replaced by a video chat system]a video chat system. For 5 minutes of face time the system charges users anywhere from $5 (the lowest number found) to $29.95 (which is insane). Yes, this can increase security by preventing visitors from passing things along to inmates like drugs or weapons but this system is not punishing the people in the jails; rather, it is punishing the family of the person who is incarcerated. Why should they have to pay just to see a family member, no matter what crime they may have committed?

The very concept of "for profit" prisons, which essentially requires housing as many inmates as possible in order to maximize profits. This particular article highlights conditions at a CAR (criminal alient requirement) prison located in Willacy County, Texas. According to the article, most of the inmates there are being detained for illegal reentry into the United States and/or small drug-related offenses. This particular unit has a history of problems, though: many inmates are housed in tents (which, given the location in extremely far South Texas near the coast can range from "comfortable" to "sweltering"), hunger strikes, toilet plumbing problems, putting all newcomers into solitary confinement (you may also be sent to solitary for asking for more food), and cramped conditions (some reports state that when lying down in a bunk an inmate's feet may be touching the bunk next to them).
The primary drive behind for-profit prisons is the lockup quota; here is a short article on lockup quotas, which includes a link to a 15-page report on for-profit prisons. As could be expected, for-profit prisons require a larger population because more beds filled equals more profit. The thing of which I was not aware were penalties assigned for unused beds, the so-called "low crime" tax--penalties which cities, counties, and States must pay if they fail to meet the lockup quota. This forces governments at the local to State level to force district attorneys and judges to favor longer sentences for crimes to meet the quota.

With the continuing trend of crime rates dropping, a fact verified by the FBI's own statistics, is it wise to have policies or contracts in place requiring that a certain number of people be in prison just so a corporation can meets its bottom line?

Look at it another way. We have a population who are incarcerated (yes, typically for things they have actually done but the reason they are there is irrelevant), meaning that they cannot leave, move on, or opt out of being incarcerated and we have another group of people who are making money on those who are incarcerated. In what way is this not slavery? Sure, the inmates chose to be there because of the crimes they committed but does that give a corporation the right to make money from them or to squeeze money from their families by charging outrageous fees for video chat visitation or pre-paid debit cards?

We need Sarge to give his input on this issue which directly effects him. Well, it may not directly effect him since his unit may not have such a contract but I bet he knows people who work at units who have these types of contracts.


Not a fan of private prisons, not even the idea. There are some societal functions that should be the province of government, and I believe that the Military and Law Enforcement falls squarely in thier purview.

Pretty much the same view with school bussing. If the state is requiring kids to go to public schools, then they can provide transportation from state employee's rather than sub-letting that service out to private companies.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2015 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Prisons for profit. That idea has got to leave a bad taste in your mouth, it's so open to abuse. It's just the beginning of a wedge, of which the thick end is a very, very unpleasant place for a society to be. What are we becoming that such opperations can even be considered let alone put into practice; I'm beginning to despair that all of the societal/social improvements we have seen in the last 100 years are being swept aside, sacrificed on the alter of the single remaining God it is still respectable to show worship for - Mammon!
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

peter (USSM) wrote:
Prisons for profit. That idea has got to leave a bad taste in your mouth, it's so open to abuse.
And the current system isn't? Wink

Quote:
It's just the beginning of a wedge, of which the thick end is a very, very unpleasant place for a society to be. What are we becoming that such opperations can even be considered let alone put into practice;

Prisons, like a lot of services provided by governments, cost money. States have a limited budget and can not print money to save themselves, so this is a cost-cutting measure.

Quote:
I'm beginning to despair that all of the societal/social improvements we have seen in the last 100 years are being swept aside, sacrificed on the alter of the single remaining God it is still respectable to show worship for - Mammon!
To be fair, Mammon also seems to be the only God that actually does anything! Razz Twisted Evil
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2015 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Orlion wrote:
peter (USSM) wrote:
Prisons for profit. That idea has got to leave a bad taste in your mouth, it's so open to abuse.
And the current system isn't? Wink


Point. Private is somewhat worse and a bit easier to corrupt from what I've seen...but only somewhat.
A good start on fixing this could be made by not putting so damn many people in prison.
And making the system and its workings a whole lot more transparent.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's a tricky one, the use of crime as a means of generating revanue.

It starts with installing speed cameras on roads where the speed limit is set just a bit below what people can reasonably drive it and ends in Stalin's 'Gulag' system that became a state within a state, and upon which [ie the slave-labour within] the Soviet economy became dependant and thus used almost any available excuse to fuel the system with the people it needed to swallow.

The 'commercial prison' will sit somewhere along this scale and while I agree, there is no á priori reason why abuse of the inmates should occur, one cannot but have a gut-feeling that the possibility is a very real one. I agree with V. that statutory detention is way over-used, both in the UK and the USA. I encounter numbers of ex-con's in the shop for whom a spell 'behind the doors' is almost a rite of passage. There is almost a sense of pride about having become part of a community within a community; a brotherhood of which no need is felt to leave. Once a young man [or girl less often] has been brought under this umberella it will be nigh on impossible to get him out again - and very little effort will be made to do so. The career criminal is made within the system, not cured by it, and abuse for monetary gain by that system will not [I'd guess] help this problem - it'll only make it worse.

[Quick tale I read a week or two ago, about an enterprising con in Wormwood-Scrubs Prison, who secured himself an illicit i-phone and then set up a false site from which he arranged his own release from prison via communique's with the prison office. It was not untill weeks after he had been released [and vanished without trace] that the scam was brought to light. A recidivist no-doubt, but an undeniably artful one!]
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First, you need to remove profit from the equation.

Second, there are too damn many laws and regulations, and no that's not just the War on Drugs. The scope of the criminal code is staggering.

Third, there needs to be some sanity in sentencing. There's no way that nonviolent offenders should be housed with career felons, and there's no way they should be serving for decades.

Fourth, when you've served your sentence, you're good-to-go. As in, no record. Our current system creates a permanent underclass who are completely unemployable when they leave prison. That benefits no one.

Nearly 3% of our population is either in prison, on parole, or on probation. That's ridiculous.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cail wrote:
First, you need to remove profit from the equation.
Even if you remove all profit from the equation, there's never going to be a situation where some party doesn't have a financial stake in the system. You have to pay people to be guards, administrators, prison builders, maintenance, etc. Even if you take every single function out of the private sector, you've just shifted the people with a financial stake in our prison system to unaccountable bureaucrats and unionized federal employees, all under the rule of whichever party wants to benefit from this situation and constituency. I'm not sure why or how this is any better than simply letting the private sector do it.


Cail wrote:
Second, there are too damn many laws and regulations, and no that's not just the War on Drugs. The scope of the criminal code is staggering.

Third, there needs to be some sanity in sentencing. There's no way that nonviolent offenders should be housed with career felons, and there's no way they should be serving for decades.

Fourth, when you've served your sentence, you're good-to-go. As in, no record. Our current system creates a permanent underclass who are completely unemployable when they leave prison. That benefits no one.

Nearly 3% of our population is either in prison, on parole, or on probation. That's ridiculous.
I agree with the rest, except for no record. Society has a right to know who our criminals are, especially violent criminals, repeat offenders, and (in the business world) financial criminals. The victims of crimes don't get to have their "record" "cleared." They have to deal with the consequences, often for the rest of their lives. So why should it be any easier for felons to escape the past? The idea that a 'debt to society' can ever be repaid is pure metaphor. The literal debt would require time travel to repay.

[I'm not even sure how it would be possible, given Google and the Internet. These are public records, known publicly. How do you erase public facts?]
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
Cail wrote:
First, you need to remove profit from the equation.
Even if you remove all profit from the equation, there's never going to be a situation where some party doesn't have a financial stake in the system. You have to pay people to be guards, administrators, prison builders, maintenance, etc. Even if you take every single function out of the private sector, you've just shifted the people with a financial stake in our prison system to unaccountable bureaucrats and unionized federal employees, all under the rule of whichever party wants to benefit from this situation and constituency. I'm not sure why or how this is any better than simply letting the private sector do it.
Fair enough; human nature is human nature. It's a good argument for automated prisons. But for-profit prisons have shareholders, and shareholders hire lobbyists, and lobbyists lobby for harsher sentences in order to bulk up their prison's population.

I'd rather have the inefficient government run prisons.


Zarathustra wrote:
Cail wrote:
Second, there are too damn many laws and regulations, and no that's not just the War on Drugs. The scope of the criminal code is staggering.

Third, there needs to be some sanity in sentencing. There's no way that nonviolent offenders should be housed with career felons, and there's no way they should be serving for decades.

Fourth, when you've served your sentence, you're good-to-go. As in, no record. Our current system creates a permanent underclass who are completely unemployable when they leave prison. That benefits no one.

Nearly 3% of our population is either in prison, on parole, or on probation. That's ridiculous.
I agree with the rest, except for no record. Society has a right to know who our repeat offenders are. The victims of crimes don't get to have their "record" "cleared." They have to deal with the consequences, often for the rest of their lives. So why should it be any easier for felons to escape the past? The idea that a 'debt to society' can ever be repaid is pure metaphor. The literal debt would require time travel to repay.

[I'm not even sure how it would be possible, given Google and the Internet. These are public records, known publicly.]
They'd have to not be public, or it would have to become illegal to discriminate against former inmates.

As it stands, if you - and I mean you personally - got arrested and convicted for enjoying a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance, you'd never hold a decent job again. You think that's fair? You think it's any more fair for a 40-year old to be in that same boat if he participated in a felony robbery when he was 18?

If you're convicted of a felony, you can't do anything. Real estate sales? Nope. Accounting, banking, or any sort of financial work? Forget it. You'll be stuck doing minimum wage jobs if you're lucky.

That's bullshit.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2015 6:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agreed Cail. Good posts.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2015 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Private Prison.. No good.
With the way of the gangs are in prison how easy would it for an inmate to use an outside gang member to influence .. lets say. A CEO or Chairman?

And yea.. true in many cases that the former inmate gets stigmatized for life. Even if he/she had a minor offense that placed prison time on them.

Seems only D&D, DUI and other type offenses that gets you booked allows to become a CEO or movie star.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2015 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cail wrote:

As it stands, if you - and I mean you personally - got arrested and convicted for enjoying a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance, you'd never hold a decent job again. You think that's fair? You think it's any more fair for a 40-year old to be in that same boat if he participated in a felony robbery when he was 18?

If you're convicted of a felony, you can't do anything. Real estate sales? Nope. Accounting, banking, or any sort of financial work? Forget it. You'll be stuck doing minimum wage jobs if you're lucky.

That's bullshit.


This is also why so many former inmates return to a life of crime--there is no other life they can have on the outside. Some prisoners would probably enjoy some sort of job-training while serving their sentence, especially if that meant they could have a starting point once they are released, while others would want nothing of the sort and are only looking to get out so they can get even with whomever helped put them in prison in the first place.

Cramming prisons full of people just to squeeze out a little more profit is probably not the best way to pursue capitalism.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2015 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hashi - more or less in order.

inmate accounts - what is charged is in the hands of the legislate here in Texas. the commissary works to our advantage and disadvantage. allowing the inmates some luxury items (snacks, better hygiene, art supplies, etc) allows them to let off some steam. but of course it gives them gambling stock and allows traffic/trading. but the will find something to barter with.

same reasoning with tv's. entertainment is good for keeping things running. but the sports lead to LOTS of gambling. I can tell by the commissary line on Tuesdays (during football season) who bet poorly the previous weekend.

visits - all sorts of problems with families passing off things. we can not search children under a certain age (I don't work visitation, but if needed I can get the info) and we can not do a comprehensive search of visiting family members. such as searching under a dress/skirt. we pat search, but that can be beaten.

for profit prisons - they pay their employees less than we make for the state. so HUGE problems with employees bringing in contraband. it is a problem for us, worse for them. have talked with many inmates and former employees who have been at such places and they say it is a free for all. our last two idiots in charge, Bush jr and Perry backed the for profits because of cash contributions.

the for profits are dangerous to employees and inmates.

why they are there - this is more important than you realize. most of our inmates are in prison because they are harmful to others. lots of sex offenders, robbers, drunk drivers, murderers.

I support legalizing weed in part to get those guys (as long as no violent crimes tied to their weed crime) out of prison to make room for the dangerous guys.

we had an ada talk to our cpa class and we found out sex offenders get lighter jail sentences because their weasel lawyers know that most parents don't want their kid in a court room revealing what was done to them, further traumatizing these kids. so the weasel lawyers are able to get favorable plea deals.

as to cail's points.

segregation - this needs to happen. non violent offenders should be treatment programs, school programs, work training programs so they can be released in the short term.

while long term offenders need that as well, we should focus on weeding out that can be saved in the short term.

drugs - this country needs to separate the drugs that harm in all forms and those (weed) that can be enjoyed with little societal effect.

end the war on drugs for "soft" drugs and save the big ammo for the hard stuff. plus legalizing weed takes the profit out of the black market for it. less crimes tied to it.

criminal records - certain crimes need to be known. people have a right to know if they are hiring a violent felon. or someone who was sentenced for thefts and such.

every effort should be made to help those who can be helped. but many of our felons are career criminals or sexual deviants that need to be out of society for the benefit of society.

but everyone is pushed through the same meat grinder and many become better criminals because of it.

in general i wish that people who believe that inmates are "victims" of society and upbringing could experience what the inmates are like in day to day life. a lot barely qualify as human. complete predators who see the general public as bank cards or mounting posts.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2015 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as the tent "cities" - as they are called in AZ - Sherriff Joe Arpiao stated that our soldiers are doing it in the Middle East in full combat gear - in 120 degree temperatures. Prisoners can handle it, too. The prisoners, by the way, have swamp coolers which do wonders and bring the temps down to reasonable levels.
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An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2015 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sarge, thank you for the insight. I figured you would know more about the situation as an insider given your current line of work.

You are quite correct in that we don't want the dangerous ones to be let back out. Given that so many of them only view us as marks or other sorts of victims is why I have advocated exile rather than prison. Find an island with sufficient resources, drop them off, and let them make whatever society and life they want for themselves without being able to bother the rest of us.

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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 6:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

aclu exists to make sure dangerous inmates are returned to society.

in the end, no matter how many we have in prison; they are there because they committed some sort of felony. and that is a society issue.

the prison population comes from the politicians and their agencies never ending consumption of money and other sources.

nancy reagan tells us to just say no : you have to lock up those who say yes.

the next big fight for the inmates is air conditioning and heating. unless you have an office that has computers you do not have heat or air. in the kitchen we have floor fans, ceiling vents for the summer. and in the winter go stand by the stoves.

some houston reporter (not sure if print or tv) found out we have a/c for the hogs. this caused such hand wringing amongst the liberal effete.

so the legislate is looking to retrofit a lot of old prisons with a/c. first we have to fix the windows. it is going to cost a lot of money that the majority of texans do not want to spend on the comfort of inmates.

if they only knew what items we purchase for the comfort of inmates.
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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cail wrote:
As it stands, if you - and I mean you personally - got arrested and convicted for enjoying a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance, you'd never hold a decent job again. You think that's fair? You think it's any more fair for a 40-year old to be in that same boat if he participated in a felony robbery when he was 18?

If you're convicted of a felony, you can't do anything. Real estate sales? Nope. Accounting, banking, or any sort of financial work? Forget it. You'll be stuck doing minimum wage jobs if you're lucky.

That's bullshit.
I agree that it's bullshit, but it's a problem with the drug war, not criminal records in general. Plenty of people get arrested for pot (a Schedule 1 drug) and still find employment. Would you want to hire a heroin addict? Most people in prison are going to be less than model employees for reasons beside having a record. They don't accidentally end up in prison. It is due to poor judgment, lack of respect for authority, bad education, or malicious nature. Those are ALL reasons not to hire someone.

With that said, there are plenty of places you could get a job with a record. Corporations aren't the only places that hire. I've had jobs where you can make close to 6 figures (if you're motivated) that did no background check whatsoever.

The Koch brothers recently announced that they're going to stop asking for criminal records on their applications for employment. Not that any liberals have given them credit for this move ...
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Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do–back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 1:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

caamora,

caamora wrote:
As far as the tent "cities" - as they are called in AZ - Sherriff Joe Arpiao stated that our soldiers are doing it in the Middle East in full combat gear - in 120 degree temperatures. Prisoners can handle it, too. The prisoners, by the way, have swamp coolers which do wonders and bring the temps down to reasonable levels.


Correct me if I'm wrong "Swamp Coolers" are dehumidifiers. What is the normal humidity in Arizona in the Summertime and how would further dehumidification of the already extremely dry air help?
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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SerScot wrote:
caamora,

caamora wrote:
As far as the tent "cities" - as they are called in AZ - Sherriff Joe Arpiao stated that our soldiers are doing it in the Middle East in full combat gear - in 120 degree temperatures. Prisoners can handle it, too. The prisoners, by the way, have swamp coolers which do wonders and bring the temps down to reasonable levels.


Correct me if I'm wrong "Swamp Coolers" are dehumidifiers. What is the normal humidity in Arizona in the Summertime and how would further dehumidification of the already extremely dry air help?
Humidity in Arizona is very low, as I recall.

Swamp coolers work through evaporating water (once again, if I recall correctly). It's actually more of a rehumidifier then a dehumidifier.
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