Tuesday, June 08, 2004

'You're the toughest wife beater I ever met'

I haven't written anything about the abuse at Abu Ghraib because, hey, this blog is about the death penalty. But here we have a link. The guy whose name figures most prominently into the unfolding scandal, Charles Graner, was a guard on death row in Pennsylvania, which has one of the nation's largest death row populations.

One of the people who encountered Graner was Nick Yarris, who spent two decades on death row for a crime he did not commit before finally gaining his release. Here's what Yarris has to say:

Another inmate, Nick Yarris, who was recently released from Greene after DNA tests cleared him of rape and murder charges for which he had spent 22 years on death row, says that the kind of abuse Nimley described in his lawsuit was common at Greene, and that Graner was involved.

Yarris says that in May 1998, he was assigned to pick up lunch trays left outside the cellblocks when a prisoner deliberately flooded his toilet. He says he saw Graner and four other guards pull the inmate out of his cell. He says the guards dragged the inmate by his feet and that Graner was holding a canister of pepper spray over the prisoner and saying, "We're going to go get some." He says that the inmate was dragged into another room out of his sight, and that the next time he saw him the inmate had been beaten and was being taken away on a gurney.

In addition to that one incident, Yarris says, Graner bragged about taunting anti-death-penalty protesters who would gather outside the prison, used racial epithets and once told a Muslim inmate he had rubbed pork all over his tray of food.

Another memory of Graner: Other guards, Yarris says, didn't seem to like him. He remembers what one guard said to Graner as Graner's marriage was collapsing under allegations of abuse.

"Yo, Charles, I heard you got a good left," the guard said mockingly. "You're the toughest wife beater I ever met."

To read the whole story, go here.

1 comment:

Paula said...

I don't understand why there hasn't been more in the press about U.S. prision abuses in light of what's happening in Iraq. The media is covering it like it's an isolated event and part of the brutality of war rather than part of the brutality that results from the dehumaizing of criminals in our prison systems.