Warning: The article this blog post is based on is extremely disturbing and upsetting. Not suitable for young readers.
Do you agree with torture? I am certain you reply ‘No’, or consider it to be something that happens only outside the U.S or perhaps only to people whom the government needs information from. I do not condone it even then, but it is not confined solely to those circumstances.
Right here in the United States, in supermax prisons, are prisoners being kept in solitary confinement, beaten by guards when they are ‘extracted’ from the cells, and in general being treated as no sane person would treat a dog.
Inmates in solitary confinement are the ones who have trouble following the prison rules, and those are most likely to be the inmates with mental illness. And if they are not insane when they go in, they soon become so.
Solitary confinement is by far the worst torture in the supermax. Human minds fare poorly in isolation, which “often results in severe exacerbation of a previously existing mental condition or in the appearance of a mental illness where none had been observed before,” Stuart Grassian, a Boston psychiatrist and authority on solitary confinement, writes in a brief for the Madrid case. Grassian believes supermaxes produce a syndrome characterized by “agitation, self-destructive behavior, and overt psychotic disorganization.” He also notes memory lapses, “primitive aggressive fantasies,” paranoia, and hallucinations.
Americans Face Guantanamo-Like Torture Everyday in a Super-Max Prison Near You: Alternet
In these prisons, prison officials, not judges, decide when inmates must stay in for longer, must serve punishment for infraction of the rules, and generally have power over the inmates’ lives and the length of their stay in prison.
In Maine, the state police are investigating the deaths of two inmates. In Idaho, the ACLU has sued and called for an investigation over the treatment of inmates at the sole prison run by a private contractor.
By international standards, the prisoners are suffering torture. From the article quoted above:
Even in the careful words of diplomacy, and even when only mental suffering is considered, supermax conditions, especially solitary confinement of American prisoners for extended periods, have increasingly been described by UN agencies and non-governmental human rights organizations as cruel, inhuman, degrading, verging on torture, or outright torture. In 2008 the UN special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, recommended that solitary confinement “be kept to a minimum, used in very exceptional cases, for as short a time as possible, and only as a last resort”—limits that U.S. supermaxes violate in the course of normal operation. The National Religious Campaign Against Torture, which has been active in opposing abuses at Guantánamo, recently began describing supermax conditions as torture. And American judges have recognized solitary confinement of the mentally ill as equivalent to torture.
American citizens are being tortured in prisons across the country. Then, when they are finally released, mentally ill and unable to cope with normal society, they are released directly back into the community, where they generally commit more crimes and injure more innocent victims.
Are you going to stand by and live your comfortable life while your fellow citizens are being tortured?
- Americans Face Guantanamo-Like Torture Everyday in a Super-Max Prison Near You (alternet.org)
- Pvt. Brad Manning: Seven Months of Solitary So Far (my.firedoglake.com)
- Supermax Torture in America (3quarksdaily.com)
- The lonely battle against solitary confinement | James Ridgeway and Jean Casella (guardian.co.uk)
- National Religious Campaign Against Torture’s petition against torture in prisons