Escape from Rochester


Senator Trujillo: Commissioner Sorenson, let me be blunt. This committee has lost its patience with your dissembling and that of the Governor's office. The news from the Greater Rochester Correctional Facility continues to get worse, despite the many promises your office has made.

Commissioner Sorenson: Apparently you aren't reading the statistics we have been producing at your request.

Senator Trujillo: Reading, yes. Trusting, no. In a period when we know that there is open warfare among prisoner factions, you show substantial declines in prisoner against prisoner violence.

Commissioner Sorenson: The prisoners are more organized than they used to be, more disciplined. They do a better job of killing each other because they want to, but less killing because they had nothing else to do at the moment.

Senator Trujillo: When we established this new concentrated prison twenty-five years ago, we were assured that prisoners would never be allowed to organize militarily...

Commissioner Sorenson: I can't speak for promises made by previous administrations...

Senator Trujillo: Perhaps you shouldn't, as prisoners hadn't organized in this way until well after you became commissioner. You promised cost-cutting, but we've seen an increase in state incursions into the prison, and more casualties among guards as a result - leading to some pretty incredible costs.

Commissioner Sorenson: Those costs are not the responsibility of my department, Senator.

Senator Trujillo: But they are of your making. Worse than the costs you are creating, however, is the apparent failure of your incursions to establish order.

Commissioner Sorenson: It's no worse than the previous order, Senator. Yes, there's damage and death. There always has been damage and death. But when the State created this prison, we did so to save money, not to be kind to criminals. That said, this new regime may even be helping prisoners to develop clearer social structures than they've had before, something we hope will lead to a more stable prison environment in the long term.

Senator Trujillo: The number of assaults on the walls has increased sharply - hardly a sign of stability.

Commissioner Sorenson: The number of successful assaults remains constant, however - zero each year.

Senator Trujillo: So we're told - by you. At the same time, investigation after investigation turns up more corruption among the guards, more drug trafficking and weapons smuggling. Some guards even seem to be turning renegade...

Commissioner Sorenson: These rumors are simply rumors. I welcome the investigations, as a means of rooting out problems that festered under my predecessors.

Senator McDougan: On a different note, commissioner, it seems that your department has fallen behind in infrastructure maintenance. Water, sewer, and electricity are all intermittent at the best of times.

Commissioner Sorenson: It's a prison city, not a suburb. Most cities don't have to deal with customers who destroy their infrastructure.

Senator Trujillo: Again, this isn't something your predecessors had trouble managing.

Senator McDougan: Nor did they have trouble paying their contractors.

Commissioner Sorenson: Contractors used to produce the work they promised. We've had a series of misfortunes, and contractors...

Senator Trujillo: Were you listening to the earlier testimony? Contractors can't get in to do the work, even with your guards' supposed protection. Lost time, lost equipment, lost lives.

Commissioner Sorenson: It's been a bad year, yes.

Senator McDougan: Do you have a plan for addressing this?

Commissioner Sorenson: We're following our plan quite precisely. The prisoners will work this phase out, and we'll be left with a smaller group of better organized prisoners, with clearer lines of communications and a few key people we can deal with.

Senator Trujillo: So you're actually enjoying this slaughter?

Commissioner Sorenson: Enjoying is a strong word, Senator.

[Inspired to some extent by Escape from New York, of course.]


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This page contains a single entry by Simon St.Laurent published on October 17, 2007 3:19 PM.

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