[Marxism] Torture in US Prisons Equal to That at Abu Ghraib in Iraq?
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Fri May 7 22:48:48 MDT 2004
Published on Thursday, May 6, 2004 by Reuters
Abuse Common in US Prisons, Activists Say
by Alan Elsner
WASHINGTON - Horrific abuses, some similar to those revealed in Iraq,
regularly occur in U.S. prisons with little national attention or public
outrage, human rights activists said on Thursday.
"We certainly see many of the same kinds of things here in the United
States, including sexual assaults and the abuse of prisoners, against both
men and women," said Kara Gotsch, public policy coordinator for the national
prison project of the American Civil Liberties Union.
"This office has been involved in cases in which prisoners have been raped
by guards and humiliated but we don't talk about it much in America and we
certainly don't hear the president expressing outrage," she said.
President Bush has said he was disgusted by the abuse of Iraqi prisoners.
Yet, there were many cases of abuse in Texas when he served as governor from
1995 to 2000.
For example, in September 1996, guards at the Brazoria County jail in Texas
staged a drug raid on inmates that was videotaped for training purposes.
The tape showed several inmates forced to strip and lie on the ground. A
police dog attacked several prisoners; the tape clearly showed one being
bitten on the leg. Guards prodded prisoners with stun guns and forced them
to crawl along the ground. Then they dragged injured inmates face down back
to their cells.
In a 1999 opinion, federal Judge William Wayne Justice wrote of the
situation in Texas state prisons: "Many inmates credibly testified to the
existence of violence, rape and extortion in the prison system and about
their own suffering from such abysmal conditions."
Judy Greene of Justice Strategies, a New York City consultancy, said: "When
I saw Bush's interview on Arab TV stations, I was thinking, had he ever
stepped inside a Texas prison when he was governor?"
PRISON GUARDS INVOLVED
Michelle Deitch, who teaches criminal justice at the Lyndon Baines Johnson
School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, said there were many
parallels with Iraq.
"The levels of abuse, the humiliation and degradation, the lack of oversight
and accountability, the balance between human rights and security interests,
overcrowding issues -- I ask myself, how can we get people equally concerned
about what goes on here?" she said.
Two of those allegedly involved in the abuse of Iraqis were U.S. prison
guards. Spc. Charles Graner, who appears in some of the most lurid
photographs, was a guard at Greene County State Correctional Institution,
one of Pennsylvania's top security death row prisons. Two years after he
arrived at Greene, the prison was at the center of an abuse scandal in which
guards routinely beat and humiliated prisoners.
Prison officials have declined to say whether Graner had been disciplined in
Staff Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick was a corrections officer at Buckingham
Correctional Center in Virginia. In a statement published by the Richmond
Times Dispatch on Thursday, Frederick compared his role at Abu Ghraib in
Iraq with his job as a guard in Buckingham, where he said he had "very
strict policies and procedures as to how to handle any given situation."
In Iraq, he said, there were no such policies.
In Cook County Jail in Chicago, the elite Special Operations Response Team
has been implicated in scores of incidents of racially motivated violence
and brutality in recent years.
One of the most dramatic took place on Feb. 4, 1999, when SORT members
accompanied by four guard dogs without muzzles ordered 400 prisoners to
leave their cells in response to a gang-related stabbing three days earlier.
According to a 50-page report by the sheriff's Internal Affairs Division,
the guards ransacked cells, then herded inmates into common areas where they
were forced to strip and face the wall with hands behind their head. Anyone
who looked away from the wall was struck with a wooden baton.
Some prisoners were forced to lie on the floor, where they were stomped and
kicked. One inmate, who did not leave a cell fast enough said he was beaten
with fists and batons until he urinated on himself and went into
convulsions. At least 49 inmates told investigators they had been beaten.
After the beatings, guards prevented inmates from receiving immediate
Corrections officer Roger Fairley testified in a deposition last year that
guards were afraid to come forward to tell of what they had seen in case
their colleagues took revenge.
"On many and many occasions I witnessed excessive force, abuse of power,
intimidation," he said.
© Reuters Limited 2004
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