Saturday, February 23, 2013

Social Brutality Harnessed by the State

Prison is a brutal place. It doesn't have to be. But the authorities who could control it have decided that they get more value from prison brutality, so at best they allow it, and at worst they outright foster it.

This is unconscionable. If the State places me where all parties have a reasonable expectation of my rape, and I am then raped, the State is the guilty party.

Correcting this terrible injustice gets no traction because we like the idea of criminals being punished. "If you don't want to experience prison, don't break the law," we say, as if only law-breakers end up in prison and as if inhumane punishments are okay for a wide assortment of crimes. But the intentionally Byzantine tax code has made felons of us all; there but for the grace of Eric Holder go you.

In Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago he makes the point that the Soviet authorities got more mileage out of unspeakable prison behavior than they could ever get otherwise. Who wanted to go to the Gulag? It was a death sentence.

I know Oscar Pistorius isn't American, but this article could just as easily been about any high-profile American suspect not yet convicted. Surely we can agree that pre-conviction suspects don't deserve the "prison experience."

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