Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Gates of Injustice

Last week, ABC's Nightline carried a fascinating story. Nightline linked the recent prisoner abuse scandal in Abu Ghraib with prisoner abuse in the United States. The program drew heavily upon Alan Elsner's new book Gates of Injustice: The Crisis in America's Prisons. It also discussed a prisoner abuse scandal at a Texas facility that was housing in part, inmates from Missouri, which had the time had a contract with Texas to incarcerate its prisoners. (This "prisoner outsourcing" is all the rage now. Here in Washington, D.C., we don't even have a prison anymore, so all of D.C.'s prisoners are outsourced, to about a dozen different states.)

Here's a little of what Nightline had to about the Texas scandal:

The story broke in August 1997 when a videotape was broadcast on the local Fox affiliate in Austin, Texas. The tape — shot on Sept. 18, 1996 — showed deputies in a Brazoria County private prison assaulting prisoners, wielding stun guns against them and allowing a German shepherd to bite a few of them. Some inmates were poked with electronic prods and ordered to say, "I love Texas."

And then, Nightline makes the connection between prisoner abuse in the U.S. and Abu Ghraib:

Elsner says there are similarities between the Texas and Abu Ghraib cases. "Some of the parallels that I noticed immediately, [include] the use of nudity as a means to humiliate and, and to abuse the prisoners. That goes on in the United States in almost a routine manner in some places. The use of guard dogs to intimidate; that also happens in the United States. But I think the most important parallel was a sense that the guys in Abu Ghraib viewed the prisoners as almost of a different species."

To read part of Nightline's transcript, go here.


Anonymous said...

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