[Marxism] Torture in US Prisons Equal to That at Abu Ghraib in Iraq?

Tony Abdo gojack10 at hotmail.com
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 
that case.

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.

BRUTALITY DOCUMENTED

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 
medical care.

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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