Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Hidden World Of Astonishing Violence: America's Brutal Prisons

A Hidden World Of Astonishing Violence: America's Brutal Prisons

This is not a film about prisoner on prisoner violence it's guard on prisoner abuse.
There would be those among society that would say the inmates deserve all they get but, given how easy it is to get arrested and incarcerated in America that's not an argument that holds much water.

There are segments in this Channel Four documentary that feature the testimony of ex cons regarding their brutal treatment by guards including the almost institutionalised excessive use of pepper sprays.
There are also those that cannot speak out like the inmate who died at the hands of the guards whilst serving a six month sentence for shoplifting.

It is said that the measure of a society reflects in the way it treats animals, this is patently obvious when we look say at the Japanese and the way it slaughters, to the world's horror, hundreds of whales, or the regard, or should I disregard that the Chinese treat both animals and people alike.
But another measure of that society is the way it treats those that it incarcerates.

How easy the good citizenry of America might dismiss what goes on behind bars as out of site out of mind, but given that the Prison Nation has a budget of forty billion tax payer dollars, the good citizenry should be asking their congress critters just what kind of person is the Department of Corrections putting back on the street after an inmate has served his time.

There is one thing I can say without fear of contradiction is that having suffered such systematic and institutionalised abuse over months or years the inmate on his release might just tend to be a little more anti-social than when he first entered the system, and just might be inclined to vent his anger and exact revenge on the softer target of society in general.

I have argued before about the bullshit surrounding the limitations that certain states and communities impose on sex offenders. Making a man a pariah and restricting his ability to seek employment or put a roof over his head and in some cases the heads of his family is nothing more than a recipe for disaster and if not a guarantee of re-offending then at least making the likelihood more than probable.

Yet for those that are held in the most inhumane of conditions, the Secure Housing Units or SHU's, often to include the mentally ill, banged up for twenty three hours a day, restricted severely in the kind of stimulating material that is available to them and in some institutions never seeing the light of day or being able to speak to another human being for years on end.

Statistics show that some eighty five to ninety percent of these inmates will one day be released.
Having been abused in this manner for God knows how many years they will be tossed out of the front door of the prison with no aftercare or supervision and with little or no chance of receiving any meds or anti-psychotics that they probably so desperately need, they will be left to their own devices.

Given the choice of who I would want living next door to me, the already violent con that has been incarcerated for years under such conditions or the sex offender, there's just no contest.

Torture Inc. Americas Brutal Prisons
by Deborah Davies
Savaged by dogs, Electrocuted With Cattle Prods, Burned By Toxic Chemicals, Does such barbaric abuse inside U.S. jails explain the horrors that were committed in Iraq?

They are just some of the victims of wholesale torture taking place inside the U.S. prison system that we uncovered during a four-month investigation for Channel 4 . It’s terrible to watch some of the videos and realise that you’re not only seeing torture in action but, in the most extreme cases, you are witnessing young men dying.video

Eastern State Penitentiary was the world's first true Penitentiary. In order to encourage penitence - or true regret - in the hearts of criminals, inmates would spend their entire sentence in solitary confinement. On the rare occasion when an inmate left his cell, a hood was placed over his head to ensure his identity would remain anonymous. Ideally, no inmate would ever see the face of another inmate.

Not come very far have we.


Anonymous said...

Very sad, but true. Our prison system in Ohio goes by the name of: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. However they fall woefully short in the rehabilitation department. The right wingers can't get enough of sending people to jail/prison. I think it gives them an inflated sense of superiority. They can tell themselves they are so much better than the people they send away. The female prisons are no better. There are many women who go into the system and have babies 13 months after being incarcerated. That is a mighty long gestation period! Rape is rampant in prisons of both sexes. The jails are better, at least in this area. I have been in two of the county jails in this area and both were better than the prisons. I think part of this is the fact that one of the jails is located in the county courthouse and surrounded by lawyers and there are windows that face a busy main street. It is possible for prisoners to communicate superficially with the public. The other is set in a more rural county and ran by a pleasant man who strikes me as firm but kind. I spent months in this prison teaching programs. He was most helpful in getting me supplies for the prisoners in order for them to do their work. I an not naive enough to believe this is the case throughout the state. HH

Himself said...

Hello H, try as I may I cannot remember the the names of two prisons that featured in some TV program, you probably know what I'm talking about.
The two prisons featured were both in the same state if I remember correctly, one was your typical high security hell hole,the other, though still high security, treated the inmates as human beings.
All sorts of rehab and educational programs were available and inmates were expected to participate, the point being the prison had never had a murder or escape in the seventeen years it had been open and violence and trouble were minimal.
Leave it with me I might remember the names.