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Abu Ghraib aside; where is the reporting on U.S. prisons?

ASK THIS | May 21, 2004

The abusive treatment of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad is awful. But isn't it time reporters took a look at prisons in the U.S? After all, there are prisons in or not far from most communities, and there is hardly any coverage of them by the media.

By James Q. Whitman

Q. Why is criminal punishment so harsh in America?

America has the highest incarceration rate in the world. We have scandal-ridden and desperately overcrowded prisons. We criminalize many acts that are treated leniently elsewhere in the world, from drug consumption to lying under oath. We impose severe criminal penalties on juveniles – something regarded as abhorrent in other advanced countries. And the list goes on. What is happening in our country? In the early years of the Republic, America was regarded as a model of humane punishment. Visitors came from all over the world to learn from American practices. Today we are close to becoming an international pariah. How can this be?

James Whitman is professor of comparative law at Yale Law School and the author of Harsh Justice: Criminal Punishment and the Widening Divide between America and Europe.


registered nurse at LAECI
Posted by nurse burr
05/26/2009, 01:59 PM

what a bunch of bull. I work at this prison, and let me tell you that our adminisration is all about protecting inmate's rights! i have never in my life worked with a finer, more professional group of people. our administration promotes excellence and pride in doing the job of incarcerating and then caring for this group of convicted felons. if you visited our prison-yard, you would see that in the spring and summer months, the yard more resembles a summer camp than a prison yard. our warden has always been progressive in keeping with the idea that if we keep these inmates connected-participating in sports and classes, and programs, we can maintain essential security of the prison,and hopefully, rehabilitate some of these offenders...so they will not have to return to the prison system. it is not our business to judge these felons, or to treat some better than others because of the nature and cercomstance of their convictions. that time has passed, and they have had their day in court. it is our responsibility to contain and secure these men so that they may serve their time. we house them, clothe them, feed them,try to teach them better social skills, and beleive it or not, we also come to care for them.i know mr. latva, and warden ganshiemer. these two men are very competant, and caring individuals. they are fair, firm and consistent with our inmates.and they both do a superb job. both men are very passionate about their careers in corrections. and very much involved in developmental programs aimed at decreasing recitivism. it must be tough to have a son in prison. but we do our jobs professionally each day at LAECI, and we have a staff we are very proud of.

The Sentencing Project
Web site of a prison reform research and advocacy group

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