How the rest of the world sees our prison system
Lauri Love is accused by the U.S. government of hacking of the computer systems of various U.S. military agencies in the 2012 and 2013. He was arrested in Britain, a nation that we have an extradition treaty with.
So end of story, right? Nope.
A British appeals court on Monday rejected demands from the U.S. government for the extradition of an accused British hacker, Lauri Love, citing the inability of U.S. prisons to humanely and adequately treat his medical and mental health ailments. Extradition to the U.S., the court ruled, would be “oppressive by reason of his physical and mental condition.”
Rejecting the prosecutor’s pleas that “the British courts should trust the United States to provide what it said it would provide” in order to secure Love’s health and safety, the court instead invoked extensive medical and psychological testimony that conditions inside American prisons are woefully inadequate to treat Love’s ailments.
That happened this week.
This is not unprecedented. In 2012, Britain's home secretary, Theresa May, blocked the extradition of Gary McKinnon, a British citizen who was wanted for hacking into the Pentagon. The justification used was McKinnon's health.
Those two examples are nothing compared to the 2015 case of Ali Charaf Damache.
Irish High Court Justice Aileen Donnelly went as far as to write a 333-page report about why the suspect shouldn’t be extradited. One highlight from the court’s ruling was that incarceration at ADX Florence prison would amount to “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Donnelly said the prison “amounts to a breach of the constitutional requirement to protect persons from inhuman and degrading treatment and to respect the dignity of the human being.”
“[P]rolonged exposure to involuntary solitary confinement exacts a significant physiological toll, is damaging to the integrity of the mind and personality, and is damaging to the bodily integrity of the person,” she continued.
...Lawyers have even argued that incarceration at ADX Florence is worse than the death penalty. Defense expert Mark Bezy called it “a mechanism to cut off an inmate’s communications with the outside world.”
In 2016, Germany refused to extradite a murderer to the U.S. because of concerns that it would amount to a death sentence.
As you might imagine, the U.N. decided to investigate torture in the U.S. prison system.
That was in 2010.
Fast-forward five years. The U.S. government has yet to grant Mendez access to a single isolation pod in any U.S. prison. The clock is ticking. Mendez has a mere 20 months left of his term, and he has yet been able to substantiate his reports with a firsthand investigation.
“The U.S. was voted into the Human Rights Council—a position that carries with it an obligation to cooperate," he says. When he speaks, Mendez wears a look of weary determination befitting of his post.
"I’m disappointed to still be waiting for the State Department to respond to my request. I’ve been waiting over two years.”
“That fact that he hasn’t received a response is contemptible,” says Laura Rovner, legal expert on prison conditions from University of Denver. “It puts the U.S. in the company of countries like Syria, Pakistan, and Russia that also have been unresponsive to requests for country visits.”
The fact that we've refused/ignored the request speaks volumes. We are ashamed of our prison system, but still refuse to do anything about it.
Without a formal inspection, the U.N. still published a report.
In its first review of the U.S. justice system since 2006, a United Nations committee has cited a long list of transgressions against international standards of human rights, from the use of water-boarding on terrorist suspects to shackling pregnant inmates in prisons, and the racially-charged police brutality on American streets.
Not shying away from some of the most pressing and overwhelming issues plaguing the U.S. criminal-justice system, the committee condemns the treatment of juveniles, with particular attention to rules that enable sentencing a minor to life without parole. It calls for these laws to be abolished, “irrespective of the crime committed.” The U.S. is one of three countries in the world, along with Somalia and South Sudan, that have not ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child which stipulates that parties should have a minimum age for criminal prosecution.
Other issues raised in the report include prison conditions, the death penalty, and the migration crisis on the southern border of the U.S.
Syria, Pakistan, Russia, Somalia and South Sudan. That's who has comparable prison systems to the U.S.
Just a few months ago, the U.N. said that the use of tasers in some U.S. jails may be tantamount to torture.
As you might imagine, Amnesty International has something to say on the matter.
The US government’s callous and dehumanising practice of holding prisoners in prolonged solitary confinement in the country’s only federal super-maximum security prison amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and is in violation of international law, said Amnesty International today.
If our nation's government had any shame at all, they would move to reform the system. Instead we are looking to make it worse.
One day after President Donald Trump invited Republican lawmakers to the White House to celebrate the historic tax cuts they passed for corporations and wealthy business leaders, his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, quitely reinstated a draconian policy that effectively serves as a regressive tax on America’s poorest people.
A symbol of Victorian England’s inequitable nature made infamous by Charles Dickens, debtors’ prisons were banned in the United States in 1833. The Supreme Court has affirmed the unconstitutionality of jailing those too poor to pay debts on three different occasion in the last century, finding that the 14th Amendment prohibits incarceration for non-payment of exorbitant court-imposed fines or fees without an assessment of a person’s ability to pay and alternatives for those who cannot. “Punishing a person for his poverty” is illegal, the Court said. Yet in recent years the modern-day equivalent of debtors' prisons have returned, as cities have grown to rely on a punishing regime of fines and fees imposed on their own residents as a major stream of revenue.
A good example of how this system of punishing the poor for being poor works can be seen in an ongoing Oklahoma court case that is starting to get needed attention.
A follow-up to a FOX23 Investigation revealed a local lawsuit targeting what some say is a “statewide extortion scheme, aimed at targeting impoverished Oklahomans” is getting national attention.
FOX23 learned Oklahoma is one of a few states who fund their criminal justice system through court fines paid by the alleged criminals themselves.
Attorney Dan Smolen says this system is set up to squeeze as much money from the poor as possible.
FOX23 found out that in the early 1990s, the crime-funded court system came into being after voters approved State Question 640—which removed the funding from the taxpayers and into the hands of criminals.
Oklahoma is doing it wrong. If they really want a system where poor people pay for their own incarceration, and the system profits from it, there is already one that is proven to work - slavery.