Death Row, Louisiana know…

ss_angolaI am in the Bayou again. Baton Rouge. The capital of Louisiana. I am thinking of that movie, “Johnny Handsome.” I fell in love with that film years ago and with Ry Cooder’s soundtrack. The movie is set in Louisiana and the main character, the criminal, played by Mickey Rourke, winds up in Angola Prison. I won’t tell you anymore but Morgan Freeman is in it as well.

I thought of the movie when I arrived here yesterday. A lawsuit was filed by three death row inmates against the state of Louisiana because the Angola Prison, is too hot. Not just too hot but dangerously hot. They were subjected, according to them, to a heat index of upwards of 195 degrees Fahrenheit. For many days the heat index was excessively hot.  All three of the death row inmates have been on death row for awhile and there is no allegation of their innocence. However, there is an allegation of inhumane treatment even for men who looked destined for death. I know who cares; they are on death row, right?

Louisiana got a special relationship with prison anyway.  They believe in it like Baltimore believes in the crab cake.  There are prisoners everywhere. Prisons everywhere. Around the corner from where I am staying are several bail bondsmen doing brisk business. This is right in between the Parish Prison and the Juvenile Jail.  The economy is not bad down here but people go to jail down here like people flock to Starbucks. A steady stream.

Here is how the local media reported on it about a month ago:

Louisiana is the world’s prison capital. The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana’s incarceration rate is nearly five times Iran’s, 13 times China’s and 20 times Germany’s.

NPR did a story on it as well.

Here is a sick quote from the piece:

A majority of Louisiana’s inmates are now housed in for-profit jails, which are run in many instances by parish sheriffs located in rural areas of the state. The sheriffs receive approximately $25 a day per inmate.

In some instances, sheriffs outsource the prisons to for-profit companies who then operate the prisons themselves. In exchange, the sheriffs receive cash for their department, which allows them to hire more employees.”

So for a state that is trading in humans who are incarcerated for cash basically, is it likely that it would allow men its death row chamber to become “the towering inferno”? Do any of us think that it matters to Governor Bobby Jindal and his administration that some men on death row are being subjected to this, if this is true. Is this cruel and unusual treatment or is the execution when the state crosses that line?

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Spurs v. Heat…

rkHxR.St.56The truth is… The Heat don’t rebound very well, and this is bad for them as Indiana proved. But the Spurs don’t rebound that well either. The difference per game is barely worth mentioning.

The Heat didn’t defend Roy Hibbert incredibly in the pick and roll game and the Spurs run that play probably better than any team in the league. The Spurs are efficient, focus on the team, and are one of the best, if not the best, assist team in the league. But the Heat aren’t far behind. The difference again is hardly an issue.

The teams both defend really well. The teams both score well and win their games by average of about 10 points per game. Shooting is about the same. Turnovers as well.  Field goal percentage is not that different as well; both stress the three point shot and let their main stars (James for the Heat; Parker for the Spurs) set the table and create through the offense.

Long ago, my view was only injuries could derail the Heat’s run to the repeat. Well, Dwayne Wade is injured. But on the other hand, he showed last game that injury or not, when the chips are down, he is ready to rise up. His shot is still flat because I don’t think he has any lift.

The Pacers, at times, showed that if you could make the Heat pay for playing a three point shooting forward at center, you can do damage.  But, the Spurs aren’t big and deliberately physical like the Pacers. Will Popovich roll out Dajuan Blair to add some physical moments to the series?

The Golden State Warriors, at times, showed that the Spurs were slow of foot and had trouble with quick teams (like the Thunder last year). The Heat are quick but they are not quick and skilled like Stephon Curry at any spot.

So I guess, it is the intangibles. The coaches. The trainers (who gets their team ready each game physically). The arenas. The 50-50 balls (who gets the most).  But mostly, it looks like the series is King James v. Tony Parker.  Who can dictate and be successful? They aren’t guarding one another right off though who knows, James might guard Parker. Parker has been likely the best point guard in the league two years now.

James is the league’s best player. There was a moment mid season where no one could touch him. He could not be defended. In Game 5 against the Pacers he hit another gear in the third quarter that no player in the league hits.  And there is added incentive. In 2007, these Spurs vanquished a young Lebron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers. I am sure he remembers.

I don’t want to summon the swami curse. When I pick a team to win, it seems, they lose. However, I said months ago only injuries could stop the Miami Heat. They have played 98 games. They have been victorious in 78. That is off the charts good, nearly 80 percent to be exact.  We are asking the Spurs to beat a team four times that loses on average once every five games.  I will leave my comments at that. I love basketball as is evident.  I expect to see a really great series.