Sunday, May 30, 2004

Bush and Prison Atrocities

President Bush says that the atrocities at Abu Ghraid are not representative of America. However, the evidence is that they are not uncharacteristic of what goes on in Texas jails and other states too.

Simply stated, the culture of sadistic and malicious violence that continues to pervade the ... prison system violates contemporary standards of decency.

"That conclusion, written by Judge William Wayne Justice, does not describe Abu Ghraib in Iraq last fall, but the Texas prison system in 1999 when George W. Bush was still governor there." (The Christian Science Monitor, May 20, 2004)

Among more than sixty countries, only Russia has a rate of over 600 incarcerations per 100,000 inhabitants. The US rate in 2002 was 702, with a total prison population of 2,033,331. The top five are:
1 United States 2,033,331
2 China 1,549,000
3 Russian Federation 846,967
4 India 313,635
5 Brazil 308,304

Source: International Centre for Prison Studies, World Prison Brief

Either we are an extremely lawless country, a nation of outlaws and thugs, or there is something wrong here. President Bush should be cautious when he speaks of how unAmerican the events at Abu Ghraib were. The President says Jesus is his favorite philosopher. I suggest he meditate on Matthew 7:1-5. Then perhaps he could rid himself of the pretense of American innocence and proceed to confession, repentance, and a call for a world-wide campaign to humanize prison conditions, beginning with our own. A start would be to do away with the harsh, racially-discriminatory drugs laws that fill our jails, break up families, and set in motion a repeating cycle of tragedy and suffering. Per dollar spent, treatment is far more efficient and effective.

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