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Saturday, May 08, 2004

Bringing American-style "Democracy" to Iraq
From the NY Times:
In a 1999 opinion, Judge Justice wrote of the situation in Texas, "Many inmates credibly testified to the existence of violence, rape and extortion in the prison system and about their own suffering from such abysmal conditions."

In a case that began in 2000, a prisoner at the Allred Unit in Wichita Falls, Tex., said he was repeatedly raped by other inmates, even after he appealed to guards for help, and was allowed by prison staff to be treated like a slave, being bought and sold by various prison gangs in different parts of the prison. The inmate, Roderick Johnson, has filed suit against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the case is now before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, said Kara Gotsch, public policy coordinator for the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Mr. Johnson.

Asked what Mr. Bush knew about abuse in Texas prisons while he was governor, Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman, said the problems in American prisons were not comparable to the abuses exposed at Abu Ghraib.

The doesn't explain, or Duffy didn't say, why they aren't comparable. Abu Ghraib's atrocities were worse? Better? One thing they have in common is that George W. Bush was ultimately responsible in both cases.

The atrocity that is the American penal system has been going on for a long time. Only rarely does it make the front page of the New York Times. If you're interested in why we have two million Americans in jail and why it is as bad as it is, read The Perpetual Prisoner Machine: How America Profits from Crime, by Joel Dyer. Like most of our other problems, including the war in Iraq, this one was caused in large part by the desire of the wealthy few who run our country to get even wealthier, at the expense of everyone else.