​Embarrassing reputation of US prisons

“Horror behind bars”

Greatest American to have ever lived

Baku. 29 June. REPORT.AZ/ “If we look at our bloody past, we can see that we are not much different from the countries that call themselves civilized,” famous American writer Henry Miller acknowledged years later. The 88-year-old writer says that we can’t accept the thinking of small citizens of any great nation that “we are happy to be what we are. We do not need to change anything.” Miller adds that the Americans seem to him to be the most worrying and avaricious of all civilized nations of the world. If we were to believe the writer’s words, the Americans are carried away by their dream and try to make the whole world look like them. But in an effort to rectify the world, they are actually destroying and damaging it...

This is how Henry Miller’s views were expressed by great Americanpoet Walt Whitman 100 years ago:

"Go on, my dear Americans, whip your horses to the utmost – excitement, money, politics! Open all your valves and let her go, whirl with the rest. You will soon get under such momentum you can't stop if you would. Only make provision betimes, old States and new States, for several thousand insane asylums. You are in a fair way to create a nation of lunatics."

I am pretty sure that if these great writers were alive today, they would certainly point out to yet another embarrassing asylum of the Americans – the contemporary asylum of prisons.

The world’s biggest “country of prisons”

To begin with, let’s say that although 2.2 million currently kept in US prisons constitute only 4 percent of the US population, this figure accounts for 25 percent of the world’s total number of prisoners. China with its 1.5 million people comes second and Russia with 870,000 people is third. As we can see, the United States of America is also the world’s “biggest country of prisons”. The fact that a country that claims to be the “cradle of democracy” has so many prisoners is somewhat strange. At a time when the USA criticizes and blames any country around of the world for efforts to protect public order, we are witnessing flagrant violations of human rights in America proper. I am talking about numerous prisoners who have been faced with police violence for attempting to resist injustice. In particular, the construction of “ADX Florence” high-security prison in America was the subject of heated debates and condemnation in American society. The objective behind the construction of this prison was to provide a response to terror organizations.

Prison wardens treat inmates very harshly here, order them to be silent and do not allow people in one cell to talk to each other even in a whisper. The psychological pressure of prison personnel on prisoners and among prisoners themselves is so overwhelming here that the relatively weaker inmates are allowed to commit suicide. This has further increased the negative attitude of the American society to the country’s law enforcement system.

According to “Washington Post”, 385 people were killed by the police in America in January-June 2015. Curiously enough, the number of black people among victims of police violence is three times as high as that of white victims. This is evidence of the fact that a country that claims to teach the world a lesson of human rights, freedoms and democracy has itself turned racial discrimination into a state policy.

In general, the number of black people killed by white American policemen has significantly increased of late. The developments of Ferguson and Baltimore unfolded in the aftermath of black people expressing their protest at this discrimination. It is also worth mentioning that around 545 civilians are killed because of police violence in America every year. I wonder why America demands that other countries respect human rights but when it comes to itself, it denies the most fundamental human right to life in such a brutal manner.

Criminals remain unpunished…

If we look at the statistics provided by “Washington Post”, we can see yet another interesting fact.Forty percent of victims of police violence were unarmed. Criminal proceedings were instituted only in three out of 385 cases. Experts believe that this is a testament to a biased attitude of the US judiciary to the rights of the black population.

Embarrassing “reputation”

The fact that the situation in US prisons is far from ideal is understandable. Human rights in US prisons are grossly violated and black inmates are faced with a campaign of prejudice. This results in serious revolts in prisons. One such revolt took place in a Kentucky prison two years ago, as 250 people were injured.

When humanism ends –Guantanamo

Blood-curdling facts about this prison, horrific stories and even photos that have led to a huge public outrage around the world have been in the media spotlight for several years now. Guantanamo is a place where prisoners have been subjected to ruthless torture techniques. As evidence of the most appalling conditions of this prison, we can refer to the diary of Muhammad uld-Slahin who spent six years at Guantanamo. Published in the form of a book, the diary provides detailed information about the gruesome torture used at Guantanamo.

Torture experienced by prisoner Majid Khan

Reuters has circulated a report describing the torture experienced by prisoner Majid Khan at Guantanamo. The story says that Majid Khan was subjected to sexual harassment, was suspended from a bar on a daily basis and made to lie in an ice-cold bath until he was no longer capable of staying conscious. Reuters collected this information from the discussions that took place between Majid Khan and his lawyers.

Horrors of Abu Ghraib

US invasion of Iraq changed a normal course of life for thousands of people. It is beyond doubt that the most abominable events associated with Iraq took place at Abu Ghraib. The photos depicting these horrors left the whole world in complete shock. The US was severely castigated by the entire world for creating this prison in the aftermath of the 11 September 2002 attacks.

The disgusting torture applied at Abu Ghraib in 2003 is described in an investigative story by American journalist Seymour M. Hersh. He says that young Iraqi women and children at Abu Ghraib were raped in the presence of their parents. In fact, all this was filmed on video. Being the first to communicate the horrors of Abu Ghraib to the world, Hershsaid that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was deliberately concealing this information from the public. The renowned journalist even accused the US government of committing war crimes.

According to other reports, Iraqi youngsters were raped with clubs, were forced to wear women’s dresses and electrocuted. After these images were made public, US sergeant Charles Graner was put before court martial, while Gen J.Kaprinskiacknowledged that torture was part of the prison policy and that CIA officers were personally involved in interrogations.

Unfortunately, some European organizations and officials claiming that the Central Intelligence Agency operates secret prisons in some East European countries actually acknowledge the fact that the “USA has exceptional rights”. Their cooperation with the USA in the establishment of various financial institutions, the provision of technical assistance in the formation of new “customer countries” among post-Soviet republics, the promotion of US interests in the cooperation and partnership agreements with these countries and other activities of European Union countries suggest that they are in one and the same boat with America.

While publishing numerous reports on human rights and freedoms in various countries, as well as the situation in the prisons of other states, Washington today seems reluctant to realize the ludicrous and embarrassing situation it has gotten itself into. Its imperial ambitions somehow prevent it from looking into the mirror. If it were able to do so, it would see that the whole world is slowly turning into Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. 

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