Monday, May 17, 2004

Home Grown Abuse

In an earlier post, I highlighted an article that described the current state of prisons in America, and the abuse that regulary occurs behind the walls of these institutions that have operated for too long beyond the pale of public oversight and investigation. One of the few positive outcomes that could result from the otherwise disastrous Iraqi prison abuse scandal, would be greater public and governmental scrutiny of the American prison system.

The unfortunate truth is that prisoners in our own prison system are regularly subjected to physical violence and sexual humiliation (including being paraded around naked in front of other prisoners) at the hands of prison officials. In addition, there is an indifference to prisoner on prisoner violence and sexual predation, which has the effect of terrorizing the prison population even though the primary actions in these instances are at the hands of other inmates.

These same prisons fail to provide inmates with adequate medical attention and psychiatric services, and also fail to institute adequate preventive measures for the transmission of infectious disease. The lack of effective medical and psychiatric treatments, which increase risks for society when these infected and/or psychotic inmates are released, are the result of cost-cutting measures in the now privatized prison system.

An Op-Ed piece in today's New York Times describes these problems, and the wisdom of instituting some form of oversight and review of the otherwise secretive prison system. Hopefully the American electorate, and our elected officials, can bring such change about without the impetus provided by a series of gruesome photographs depicting our own abuse scandal.

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