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Direckshun
03-30-2009, 01:04 AM
Reforming the incredibly inefficient prison system.

Politically treacherous, and opens up any politician attempting it to charges of being "weak on crime."

Enter: Jim Webb.

http://hamptonroads.com/2009/03/webb-takes-next-challenge-nations-prison-system

Webb takes on next challenge: nation's prison system

By Dale Eisman
The Virginian-Pilot
March 26, 2009
WASHINGTON

Alarmed by prisons that are clogged with mentally ill people, drug users and other non-violent offenders while well-armed gangs and drug lords often go unpunished, Virginia Sen. Jim Webb will launch a wide-ranging and politically risky campaign today to overhaul the nation's criminal justice system.

With nearly 2.4 million Americans now behind bars, Webb said, "our incarceration rate has exploded.... But at the same time we aren't really solving the problems."

With backing from senior Democratic senators and quiet encouragement from President Barack Obama, Webb will introduce legislation to create a bipartisan commission on criminal justice reform.

Webb said he wants the commission to educate itself and then the American public on some little-understood realities about crime and punishment.

His bill reads like an indictment of the current system, noting that the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, that minorities make up a disproportionately large share of prison populations, and that half of prisoners will return to prison within three years of release.

Webb said he hopes that once people begin to understand that such a high rate of imprisonment has done little to stop violent crime or drug trafficking, they'll support changes.

The proposal is the product of two years of study by Webb and his staff. A pair of hearings and a half-day convocation Webb led on the subject last fall at George Mason University led to a flood of inquiries from prosecutors, defense lawyers, crime victims, judges and prison administrators across the country, Webb said.

"It was like tapping a nerve." And from all quarters, he said, the message was: "This is a mess. This is just a mess. And we have to figure out a way to fix it."

Webb's bill does not suggest specific reforms but directs the commission to make suggestions that would reduce incarceration rates and keep mental patients and nonviolent offenders from going to prison.

The commission could be the most ambitious attempt to re-examine and reform the criminal justice system since the 1960s, said Mark Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit group that supports reducing incarceration rates.

"It is a huge undertaking," he said.

Webb has briefed Obama's staff on the plan and discussed it with the president earlier this week. He has secured pledges of support from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Democratic whip Dick Durbin of Illinois and expressions of interest from prominent Republicans, including Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the ranking GOP member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Webb also has talked the issue over with Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who invited Webb to his office and shared the texts of several speeches voicing his own concern about criminal sentencing.

The senator said Kennedy told him that too many judges "don't understand prisons" and "don't pay that much attention to what happens after we've moved the cases."

Webb gained national attention last year for his successful effort to secure a new GI Bill underwriting college costs for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For a time, he was considered a prospect to run for vice president on the Obama-led Democratic ticket.

After winning his Senate seat by a razor-thin margin in 2006, "he's improved his standing" with Virginia voters, said Mark Rozell, a political scientist at George Mason University. "He's now seen as a strong incumbent."

But Rozell added that "being hard on crime is the politically safe place to be.... There's just not a lot of public sentiment out there to do something about incarceration time.

"Whether he's doing the right thing or not, politically it's risky."

Webb, a lawyer, said his interest in the issue goes back to his days as a Marine Corps officer, sitting on courts-martial, and it was honed during law school when he did volunteer work on behalf of a young black Marine accused of war crimes in Vietnam.

Later, as a freelance journalist working for Parade magazine, Webb toured prisons in Japan and was struck by how different that country's approach to offenders is from America's, he said. With a population half that of the United States, Japan had just 40,000 people in prisons and jails, he said; the U.S. system had more than 500,000 locked up.

That was 25 years ago; today's prison population is nearly five times as large.

Webb has served as Navy secretary and written several books since then but still does occasional articles for Parade. He wrote a cover story on his prison initiative for Sunday's editions.

He said he expects some political blow-back, particularly from state Republicans.

"Every statement I've ever made on this, every forum I've had, I've said we want to put those who perpetrate violence, those who commit crime as a way of life... we want those people to go to jail," Webb said.

His concern is that "we've spent so much energy chasing down the little guy that we haven't been able to focus properly on the violence and the transnational organized crime that really threaten us."

Dale Eisman, (703) 913-9872, dale.eisman@pilotonline.com

Direckshun
03-30-2009, 01:09 AM
Glenn Greenwald comments (http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/03/28/webb/index.html), extensively and as always, interestingly:

Jim Webb's courage v. the "pragmatism" excuse for politicians
Saturday March 28, 2009 09:02 EDT

There are few things rarer than a major politician doing something that is genuinely courageous and principled, but Jim Webb's impassioned commitment to fundamental prison reform is exactly that. Webb's interest in the issue was prompted by his work as a journalist in 1984, when he wrote about an American citizen who was locked away in a Japanese prison for two years under extremely harsh conditions for nothing more than marijuana possession. After decades of mindless "tough-on-crime" hysteria, an increasingly irrational "drug war," and a sprawling, privatized prison state as brutal as it is counter-productive, America has easily surpassed Japan -- and virtually every other country in the world -- to become what Brown University Professor Glenn Loury recently described as a "a nation of jailers" whose "prison system has grown into a leviathan unmatched in human history."

What's most notable about Webb's decision to champion this cause is how honest his advocacy is. He isn't just attempting to chip away at the safe edges of America's oppressive prison state. His critique of what we're doing is fundamental, not incremental. And, most important of all, Webb is addressing head-on one of the principal causes of our insane imprisonment fixation: our aberrational insistence on criminalizing and imprisoning non-violent drug offenders (when we're not doing worse to them). That is an issue most politicians are petrified to get anywhere near, as evidenced just this week by Barack Obama's adolescent, condescending snickering when asked about marijuana legalization, in response to which Obama gave a dismissive answer that Andrew Sullivan accurately deemed "pathetic." Here are just a few excerpts from Webb's Senate floor speech this week (.pdf) on his new bill to create a Commission to study all aspects of prison reform:

Let's start with a premise that I don't think a lot of Americans are aware of. We have 5% of the world's population; we have 25% of the world's known prison population. We have an incarceration rate in the United States, the world's greatest democracy, that is five times as high as the average incarceration rate of the rest of the world. There are only two possibilities here: either we have the most evil people on earth living in the United States; or we are doing something dramatically wrong in terms of how we approach the issue of criminal justice. . . .

The elephant in the bedroom in many discussions on the criminal justice system is the sharp increase in drug incarceration over the past three decades. In 1980, we had 41,000 drug offenders in prison; today we have more than 500,000, an increase of 1,200%. The blue disks represent the numbers in 1980; the red disks represent the numbers in 2007 and a significant percentage of those incarcerated are for possession or nonviolent offenses stemming from drug addiction and those sorts of related behavioral issues. . . .

In many cases these issues involve people’s ability to have proper counsel and other issues, but there are stunning statistics with respect to drugs that we all must come to terms with. African-Americans are about 12% of our population; contrary to a lot of thought and rhetoric, their drug use rate in terms of frequent drug use rate is about the same as all other elements of our society, about 14%. But they end up being 37% of those arrested on drug charges, 59% of those convicted, and 74% of those sentenced to prison by the numbers that have been provided by us. . . .

Another piece of this issue that I hope we will address with this National Criminal Justice Commission is what happens inside our prisons. . . . We also have a situation in this country with respect to prison violence and sexual victimization that is off the charts and we must get our arms around this problem. We also have many people in our prisons who are among what are called the criminally ill, many suffering from hepatitis and HIV who are not getting the sorts of treatment they deserve.

Importantly, what are we going to do about drug policy - the whole area of drug policy in this country?

And how does that affect sentencing procedures and other alternatives that we might look at?

Webb added that "America's criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace" and "we are locking up too many people who do not belong in jail."

It's hard to overstate how politically thankless, and risky, is Webb's pursuit of this issue -- both in general and particularly for Webb. Though there has been some evolution of public opinion on some drug policy issues, there is virtually no meaningful organized constituency for prison reform. To the contrary, leaving oneself vulnerable to accusations of being "soft on crime" has, for decades, been one of the most toxic vulnerabilities a politician can suffer (ask Michael Dukakis). Moreover, the privatized Prison State is a booming and highly profitable industry, with an army of lobbyists, donations, and other well-funded weapons for targeting candidates who threaten its interests.

Most notably, Webb is in the Senate not as an invulnerable, multi-term political institution from a safely blue state (he's not Ted Kennedy), but is the opposite: he's a first-term Senator from Virginia, one of the "toughest" "anti-crime" states in the country (it abolished parole in 1995 and is second only to Texas in the number of prisoners it executes), and Webb won election to the Senate by the narrowest of margins, thanks largely to George Allen's macaca-driven implosion. As Ezra Klein wrote, with understatement: "Lots of politicians make their name being anti-crime, which has come to mean pro-punishment. Few make their name being pro-prison reform."

For a Senator like Webb to spend his time trumpeting the evils of excessive prison rates, racial disparities in sentencing, the unjust effects of the Drug War, and disgustingly harsh conditions inside prisons is precisely the opposite of what every single political consultant would recommend that he do. There's just no plausible explanation for what Webb's actions other than the fact that he's engaged in the noblest and rarest of conduct: advocating a position and pursuing an outcome because he actually believes in it and believes that, with reasoned argument, he can convince his fellow citizens to see the validity of his cause. And he is doing this despite the fact that it potentially poses substantial risks to his political self-interest and offers almost no prospect for political reward. Webb is far from perfect -- he's cast some truly bad votes since being elected -- but, in this instance, not only his conduct but also his motives are highly commendable.

* * * * *

Webb's actions here underscore a broader point. Our political class has trained so many citizens not only to tolerate, but to endorse, cowardly behavior on the part of their political leaders. When politicians take bad positions, ones that are opposed by large numbers of their supporters, it is not only the politicians, but also huge numbers of their supporters, who step forward to offer excuses and justifications: well, they have to take that position because it's too politically risky not to; they have no choice and it's the smart thing to do. That's the excuse one heard for years as Democrats meekly acquiesced to or actively supported virtually every extremist Bush policy from the attack on Iraq to torture and warrantless eavesdropping; it's the excuse which even progressives offer for why their political leaders won't advocate for marriage equality or defense spending cuts; and it's the same excuse one hears now to justify virtually every Obama "disappointment."

Webb's commitment to this unpopular project demonstrates how false that excuse-making is -- just as it was proven false by Russ Feingold's singular, lonely, October, 2001 vote against the Patriot Act and Feingold's subsequent, early opposition to the then-popular Bush's assault on civil liberties, despite his representing the purple state of Wisconsin. Political leaders have the ability to change public opinion by engaging in leadership and persuasive advocacy. Any cowardly politician can take only those positions that reside safely within the majoritiarian consensus. Actual leaders, by definition, confront majoritarian views when they are misguided and seek to change them, and politicians have far more ability to affect and change public opinion than they want the public to believe they have.

The political class wants people to see them as helpless captives to immutable political realities so that they have a permanent, all-purpose excuse for whatever they do, so that they are always able to justify their position by appealing to so-called "political realities." But that excuse is grounded in a fundamentally false view of what political leaders are actually capable of doing in terms of shifting public opinion, as NYU Journalism Professor Jay Rosen explained when I interviewed him about his theories of how political consensus is maintained and manipulated:

GG: One of the points you make is that it's not just journalists who define what these spheres [of consensus, legitimate debate and deviance] encompass. You argue that politicians, political actors can change what's included in these spheres based on the positions that they take. And in some sense, you could even say that that's kind of what leadership is -- not just articulating what already is within the realm of consensus, which anyone can do, but taking ideas that are marginalized or within the sphere of deviance and bringing them into the sphere of legitimacy. How does that process work? How do political actors change those spheres?

JR: Well, that's exactly what leadership is. And I think it's crippling sometimes to our own sense of efficacy in politics and media, if we assume that the media has all of the power to frame the debate and decide what consensus is, and consign things to deviant status. That's not really true. That's true under conditions of political immobilization, leadership default, a rage for normalcy, but in ordinary political life, leaders, by talking about things, make them legitimate. Parties, by pushing for things, make them part of the sphere of debate. Important and visible people can question consensus, and all of a sudden expand it. These spheres are malleable; if the conversation of democracy is alive and if you make your leaders talk about things, it becomes valid to talk about them.

And I really do think there's a self-victimization that sometimes goes on, but to go back to the beginning of your question, there's something else going on, which is the ability to infect us with notions of what's realistic is one of the most potent powers press and political elites have. Whenever we make that kind of decision -- "well it's pragmatic, let's be realistic" -- what we're really doing is we're speculating about other Americans, our fellow citizens, and what they're likely to accept or what works on them or what stimuli they respond to. And that way of seeing other Americans, fellow citizens, is in fact something the media has taught us; that is one of the deepest lessons we've learned from the media even if we are skeptics of the MSM.

And one of the things I see on the left that really bothers me is the ease with which people skeptical of the media will talk about what the masses believe and how the masses will be led and moved in this way that shows me that the mass media tutors them on how to see their fellow citizens. And here the Internet again has at least some potential, because we don't have to guess what those other Americans think. We can encounter them ourselves, and thereby reshape our sense of what they think. I think every time people make that judgment about what's realistic, what they're really doing is they're imagining what the rest of the country would accept, and how other people think, and they get those ideas from the media.
We've been trained how we talk about our political leaders primarily by a media that worships political cynicism and can only understand the world through political game-playing. Thus, so many Americans have been taught to believe not only that politicians shouldn't have the obligation of leadership imposed on them -- i.e., to persuade the public of what is right -- but that it's actually smart and wise of them to avoid positions they believe in when doing so is politically risky.

People love now to assume the role of super-sophisticated political consultant rather than a citizen demanding actions from their representatives. Due to the prism of gamesmanship through which political pundits understand and discuss politics, many citizens have learned to talk about their political leaders as though they're political strategists advising their clients as to the politically shrewd steps that should be taken ("this law is awful and unjust and he was being craven by voting for it, but he was absolutely right to vote for it because the public wouldn't understand if he opposed it"), rather than as citizens demanding that their public servants do the right thing ("this law is awful and unjust and, for that reason alone, he should oppose it and show leadership by making the case to the public as to why it's awful and unjust").

It may be unrealistic to expect most politicians in most circumstances to do what Jim Webb is doing here (or what Russ Feingold did during Bush's first term). My guess is that Webb, having succeeded in numerous other endeavors outside of politics, is not desperate to cling to his political office, and he has thus calculated that he'd rather have six years in the Senate doing things he thinks are meaningful than stay there forever on the condition that he cowardly renounce any actual beliefs. It's probably true that most career politicians, possessed of few other talents or interests, are highly unlikely to think that way.

But the fact that cowardly actions from political leaders are inevitable is no reason to excuse or, worse, justify and even advocate that cowardice. In fact, the more citizens are willing to excuse and even urge political cowardice in the name of "realism" or "pragmatism" ("he was smart to take this bad, unjust position because Americans are too stupid or primitive for him to do otherwise and he needs to be re-elected"), the more common that behavior will be. Politicians and their various advisers, consultants and enablers will make all the excuses they can for why politicians do what they do and insist that public opinion constrains them to do otherwise. That excuse-making is their role, not the role of citizens. What ought to be demanded of political officials by citizens is precisely the type of leadership Webb is exhibiting here.

HonestChieffan
03-30-2009, 06:24 AM
Prisons suck and they are full of bad people. Aint that just how stuff happens? You build a nice place, spend a lot of money, hire a lot of folks to run it, then trash moves in and it goes downhill.

I think a Commision can fix that.

BucEyedPea
03-30-2009, 06:50 AM
With all the new financial laws on the books, under our new socialism, the prison system will need to be expanded for fit more of us.

wild1
03-30-2009, 07:03 AM
With all the new financial laws on the books, under our new socialism, the prison system will need to be expanded for fit more of us.

Libs won't let you build any more prisons.

It's interesting, the prison system is really pretty cruel, with overcrowding and such. As much as they care about human rights, supposedly, you would guess libs would want the prison system to be more humane. But they only propose letting massive numbers of criminals loose on the street, not building a prison system befitting this country

I guess it's hard to find money for that. After all we have billions of condoms to buy, and Hamas needs a lot of money, and we have to funnel a lot to General Motors, and... eh.

BucEyedPea
03-30-2009, 07:29 AM
Libs won't let you build any more prisons.

It's interesting, the prison system is really pretty cruel, with overcrowding and such. As much as they care about human rights, supposedly, you would guess libs would want the prison system to be more humane. But they only propose letting massive numbers of criminals loose on the street, not building a prison system befitting this country

I guess it's hard to find money for that. After all we have billions of condoms to buy, and Hamas needs a lot of money, and we have to funnel a lot to General Motors, and... eh.

This is not an issue, I'm read up on and don't have a big interest in as well. Hence my sarcastic post. But there's a lot of new crimes that are being created. How many are in there that are drug related crimes or using illegal drugs?

Garcia Bronco
03-30-2009, 07:30 AM
You can start reforming the prison population and system by de-criminalizing Cannabis.

Brock
03-30-2009, 07:31 AM
Now this is the kind of work that should be outsourced to China.

dirk digler
03-30-2009, 07:46 AM
Libs won't let you build any more prisons.

It's interesting, the prison system is really pretty cruel, with overcrowding and such. As much as they care about human rights, supposedly, you would guess libs would want the prison system to be more humane. But they only propose letting massive numbers of criminals loose on the street, not building a prison system befitting this country

I guess it's hard to find money for that. After all we have billions of condoms to buy, and Hamas needs a lot of money, and we have to funnel a lot to General Motors, and... eh.

You can't blames Dems or Republicans for not wanting to build more prisons. The problem is 99% of the towns, cities, etc fight like tooth and nail not to have a prison built near them just like they do if they wanted to build a nuclear plant. Everybody is all for more prisons or nuclear plants unless it is next door to them.

But Jim Webb is actually right about this. The system needs reformed in a big way and I am glad he is taking on this issue.

Brock
03-30-2009, 07:50 AM
The problem is 99% of the towns, cities, etc fight like tooth and nail not to have a prison built near them just like they do if they wanted to build a nuclear plant. Everybody is all for more prisons or nuclear plants unless it is next door to them.

That isn't true. Prisons bring jobs.

dirk digler
03-30-2009, 07:52 AM
That isn't true. Prisons bring jobs.

so do nuclear plants.

Brock
03-30-2009, 07:54 AM
so do nuclear plants.

Surely you can understand the difference.

dirk digler
03-30-2009, 08:05 AM
Surely you can understand the difference.

I understand but most people don't especially when a prisoner escapes.

Brock
03-30-2009, 08:06 AM
I understand but most people don't especially when a prisoner escapes.

Towns compete for prisons. Read the news. There hasn't been a nuclear plant built in about 30 years, so the comparison doesn't work anyway.

HonestChieffan
03-30-2009, 08:15 AM
Now this is the kind of work that should be outsourced to China.

Cant do it. We cant even send Chineese criminals back to China according to the GoodShip Obamapop in Washington...we are gonna let their muslim fanatics free in the US cause China may be mean to them.

dirk digler
03-30-2009, 08:20 AM
Towns compete for prisons. Read the news. There hasn't been a nuclear plant built in about 30 years, so the comparison doesn't work anyway.

Towns compete yes but it doesn't mean the citizens like it.

HonestChieffan
03-30-2009, 08:21 AM
Towns compete yes but it doesn't mean the citizens like it.

In the new Amerika, the citizen need not worry. They will be cared for and should be silent and calm.

Brock
03-30-2009, 08:21 AM
Towns compete yes but it doesn't mean the citizens like it.

Most of them do. That's why their representative governments vie for the business.

dirk digler
03-30-2009, 08:32 AM
Most of them do. That's why their representative governments vie for the business.

I don't think representatives really care what most of their constituents think. All they see is jobs and how it will save their dying town and forget about all the unintended consequences.

I think if you asked most people if they wanted to live next to a prison that housed child molesters and rapists I think a clear majority would say no.

Brock
03-30-2009, 08:34 AM
I don't think representatives really care what most of their constituents think. All they see is jobs and how it will save their dying town and forget about all the unintended consequences.

I think if you asked most people if they wanted to live next to a prison that housed child molesters and rapists I think a clear majority would say no.

Your view clashes with the reality of the situation. Look around.

HonestChieffan
03-30-2009, 08:35 AM
I don't think representatives really care what most of their constituents think. All they see is jobs and how it will save their dying town and forget about all the unintended consequences.

I think if you asked most people if they wanted to live next to a prison that housed child molesters and rapists I think a clear majority would say no.

Will you vote for Ike Skelton next go-round?

dirk digler
03-30-2009, 08:40 AM
Your view clashes with the reality of the situation. Look around.

I have and I probably over generalized about representatives and where I live is a prime example. Our town had a chance to get a federal jail but it got squashed because people didn't want those types of criminals staying in the middle of our town.

dirk digler
03-30-2009, 08:42 AM
Will you vote for Ike Skelton next go-round?

I don't know why? Not like it matters anyway he always wins by huge landslides.

Brock
03-30-2009, 08:43 AM
I have and I probably over generalized about representatives and where I live is a prime example. Our town had a chance to get a federal jail but it got squashed because people didn't want those types of criminals staying in the middle of our town.

Most prisons are built in rural locations, miles from the nearest town.

HonestChieffan
03-30-2009, 08:43 AM
I don't know why? Not like it matters anyway he always wins by huge landslides.

Hes gotten my last vote. Id vote for Mickey Mouse before ill vote Ike again

blaise
03-30-2009, 08:59 AM
Most prisons are built in rural locations, miles from the nearest town.

This is true, and the prisons do bring jobs. I think part of it depends on the economy of the proposed location (when it comes to whether people want it). Johnson County, KS people aren't going to want a Federal Prison, but in places like Central Pennsylvania, where there's not many jobs, you see several large prison complexes. They people there like it because the pay is far above what most would be earning, you can't get laid off, and you can retire at 50. They'd never have that without the prison.

dirk digler
03-30-2009, 09:02 AM
Most prisons are built in rural locations, miles from the nearest town.

Some are. The one in Farmington, MO is downtown and it is huge. Same thing with Fulton and Jefferson City.

patteeu
03-30-2009, 09:08 AM
You can start reforming the prison population and system by de-criminalizing Cannabis.

I think that, and reform of drug laws in general, is what this is really about. Contrary to the gushing praise of Glenn Greenwald for Webb's "courage", I think that he's hiding his attempt to reform drug laws behind a mask of prison reform. I agree that both are politically dangerous to some degree, but I think addressing drug law reform head on is more dangerous.

BTW, I support drug law reform and I don't have a problem with the broader set of positions that Webb seems to be taking here based on the information presented.

blaise
03-30-2009, 09:18 AM
I read most of the article, but not all. I read very little concrete ideas other than the justice system has faults. Ok great. I think the reform the article discusses has more to do with the courts than the prisons. The prisons don't set the sentences, they just house the inmates. It's not really prison reform he seems to be talking about, but sentencing guidelines.

Nightfyre
03-30-2009, 09:23 AM
The next big issue that china is starting to press is how we will deal with our national debt. China will have a problem, as will we, if the answer is "print money."
Posted via Mobile Device

Direckshun
03-30-2009, 09:52 AM
I think that he's hiding his attempt to reform drug laws behind a mask of prison reform.

Most of it seems to me to be a referendum to reduce recidivism.

Drug law reform is a part of that, but I think recidivism is the driving force here.

Direckshun
03-30-2009, 09:54 AM
Prisons suck and they are full of bad people. Aint that just how stuff happens? You build a nice place, spend a lot of money, hire a lot of folks to run it, then trash moves in and it goes downhill.

I think a Commision can fix that.

Why don't other countries have similar difficulties?

Are there just more bad people here?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/67/Prisoner_population_rate_UN_HDR_2007_2008.PNG

dirk digler
03-30-2009, 09:56 AM
Why don't other countries have similar difficulties?

Are there just more bad people here?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/67/Prisoner_population_rate_UN_HDR_2007_2008.PNG

Well to be fair I bet in alot of countries they don't imprison people they just kill them. I guess that would make for a strong deterrent. :D

Direckshun
03-30-2009, 09:57 AM
Well to be fair I bet in alot of countries they don't imprison people they just kill them.

So do we.

dirk digler
03-30-2009, 09:58 AM
So do we.

Yeah but they don't wait 20 years to do it.

HonestChieffan
03-30-2009, 10:08 AM
So do we.

not enough of them and not soon enough

blaise
03-30-2009, 10:12 AM
Why don't other countries have similar difficulties?

Are there just more bad people here?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/67/Prisoner_population_rate_UN_HDR_2007_2008.PNG

The fact that we imprison a higher percent doesn't necessarily mean it's all the fault of the criminal justice system or the prisons.

KC native
03-30-2009, 10:14 AM
The fact that we imprison a higher percent doesn't necessarily mean it's all the fault of the criminal justice system or the prisons.

So, what's your explanation then?

Direckshun
03-30-2009, 10:17 AM
not enough of them and not soon enough

So that's how we get out of this mess, HCF?

Killing more people, quickly?

KC native
03-30-2009, 10:17 AM
not enough of them and not soon enough

The death penalty is not a deterrent

blaise
03-30-2009, 10:18 AM
So, what's your explanation then?

You'd almost have to go on a case by case basis. Som nations may not do a good enough job protecting the public and let too many criminals free. Some nations may indeed have a public less inclined to crime.
Just because Somalia incarerates a lower percent doesn't mean they have an efficient criminal justice system, nor does it mean it's safe to walk their streets.

blaise
03-30-2009, 10:19 AM
So that's how we get out of this mess, HCF?

Killing more people, quickly?

What's your solution?

Direckshun
03-30-2009, 10:26 AM
What's your solution?

I don't have a silver bullet, I just have ideas that could help.

* Drug law reform. Legalisation of marijuana.
* Elimination of social issue laws, like the outlawing of particular homosexual activity.
* Rehabilitation founded on the Risk, Needs, and Responsibility principles.
* A flood of funding to improve inner city district neighborhoods and most importantly, schools.

Direckshun
03-30-2009, 10:27 AM
Some nations may indeed have a public less inclined to crime.
And there it is. Americans are just more inclined towards crime.

patteeu
03-30-2009, 10:28 AM
So, what's your explanation then?

Lax immigration policies.

A misguided embrace of multiculturalism instead of a concerted effort to assimilate and homogenize (wrt both the immigrant population and the indigenous population).

A wildly unsuccessful and misguided drug war.

KC native
03-30-2009, 10:29 AM
You'd almost have to go on a case by case basis. Som nations may not do a good enough job protecting the public and let too many criminals free. Some nations may indeed have a public less inclined to crime.
Just because Somalia incarerates a lower percent doesn't mean they have an efficient criminal justice system, nor does it mean it's safe to walk their streets.

So, how about limiting it to developed countries instead of throwing in obvious outliers like Somalia? What's your explanation for the difference in incarceration rates between the US and developed nations?

patteeu
03-30-2009, 10:29 AM
You'd almost have to go on a case by case basis. Som nations may not do a good enough job protecting the public and let too many criminals free. Some nations may indeed have a public less inclined to crime.
Just because Somalia incarerates a lower percent doesn't mean they have an efficient criminal justice system, nor does it mean it's safe to walk their streets.

Good point.

Brock
03-30-2009, 10:30 AM
The death penalty is not a deterrent

It shouldn't be presented as such. It's a penalty.

HonestChieffan
03-30-2009, 10:32 AM
Sure deters at least one repeat offender.

Direckshun
03-30-2009, 10:33 AM
Sure deters at least one repeat offender.

That's not deterrence, that's recidivism.

Idiot.

KC native
03-30-2009, 10:34 AM
It shouldn't be presented as such. It's a penalty.

It's supposed to be a deterrent against murder. The justification for it is that if there is a death penalty people won't commit murder. Actually, all penalties for crimes are supposed to be deterrents. In our justice system penalties are supposed to be harsh enough that most people won't commit that crime.

HonestChieffan
03-30-2009, 10:34 AM
That's not deterrence, that's recidivism.

Idiot.

Sure recidifies at least one.

blaise
03-30-2009, 10:36 AM
I don't have a silver bullet, I just have ideas that could help.

* Drug law reform. Legalisation of marijuana.
* Elimination of social issue laws, like the outlawing of particular homosexual activity.
* Rehabilitation founded on the Risk, Needs, and Responsibility principles.
* A flood of funding to improve inner city district neighborhoods and most importantly, schools.

I would like to see the amount of people incarcerated for marijuana. I'm not against legalizing it, but I think the amount of people in prison for it is probably lower than you'd think. I doubt the second part of your plan would reduce prison population very much, if at all.
As far as the third part, I think the Federal Prisons do a lot to try and prevent recidivism. If prisoners are inclined, I think there's jobs they can do in there that teach skills. Ironically, there's liberal groups that protest this because they say the government is capitalizing on prison labor. As far as State Prisons go, I think most correctional employees are just doing their best not to get killed, and not get sued by the prisoners (of course there's bad apples, but I think that percent is low). I just don't think they have any time or money beyond what they have now.
That links into your fourth point- where's the flood of monet coming from? I realize you can argue that it's an investment because if you keep these people out of prisons you won't have to pay to keep them incarcerated, but there's not a whole lot of extra cash around to pay for programs like that. Especially when hard working people are out there trying to make ends meet.
It's a problem, no doubt, but I don't see much changing. There just isn't the money.

KC native
03-30-2009, 10:36 AM
Sure recidifies at least one.

ROFL

I think you should look up what recidivism means.

Brock
03-30-2009, 10:37 AM
It's supposed to be a deterrent against murder. The justification for it is that if there is a death penalty people won't commit murder. Actually, all penalties for crimes are supposed to be deterrents. In our justice system penalties are supposed to be harsh enough that most people won't commit that crime.

I don't think it's supposed to be a deterrent against anything. It's supposed to be a punishment that fits the most heinous of crimes. No punishment has ever deterred anyone who is determined to commit a crime from committing a crime.

dirk digler
03-30-2009, 10:38 AM
The death penalty is not a deterrent

In its current state it isn't.

HonestChieffan
03-30-2009, 10:42 AM
ROFL

I think you should look up what recidivism means.

I dont really care. In the case of the death penalty it sure stops a repeat offender. Call it what you want..it sure works for that one guy.

KC native
03-30-2009, 10:42 AM
I would like to see the amount of people incarcerated for marijuana. I'm not against legalizing it, but I think the amount of people in prison for it is probably lower than you'd think. I doubt the second part of your plan would reduce prison population very much, if at all.
As far as the third part, I think the Federal Prisons do a lot to try and prevent recidivism. If prisoners are inclined, I think there's jobs they can do in there that teach skills. Ironically, there's liberal groups that protest this because they say the government is capitalizing on prison labor. As far as State Prisons go, I think most correctional employees are just doing their best not to get killed, and not get sued by the prisoners (of course there's bad apples, but I think that percent is low). I just don't think they have any time or money beyond what they have now.
That links into your fourth point- where's the flood of monet coming from? I realize you can argue that it's an investment because if you keep these people out of prisons you won't have to pay to keep them incarcerated, but there's not a whole lot of extra cash around to pay for programs like that. Especially when hard working people are out there trying to make ends meet.
It's a problem, no doubt, but I don't see much changing. There just isn't the money.

Article about weed heads locked up. It's from 07 but I doubt much has changed since then

Pot Prisoners Cost Americans $1 Billion a Year

By Paul Armentano, AlterNet. Posted February 10, 2007.

The latest numbers are out: nearly 800,000 Americans were arrested on marijuana charges in 2005. When will the insanity stop?
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American taxpayers are now spending more than a billion dollars per year to incarcerate its citizens for pot. That's according to statistics recently released by the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics.

According to the new BJS report, "Drug Use and Dependence, State and Federal Prisoners, 2004," 12.7 percent of state inmates and 12.4 percent of federal inmates incarcerated for drug violations are serving time for marijuana offenses. Combining these percentages with separate U.S. Department of Justice statistics on the total number of state and federal drug prisoners suggests that there are now about 33,655 state inmates and 10,785 federal inmates behind bars for marijuana offenses. The report failed to include estimates on the percentage of inmates incarcerated in county and/or local jails for pot-related offenses.

Multiplying these totals by U.S. DOJ prison expenditure data reveals that taxpayers are spending more than $1 billion annually to imprison pot offenders.

The new report is noteworthy because it undermines the common claim from law enforcement officers and bureaucrats, specifically White House drug czar John Walters, that few, if any, Americans are incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses. In reality, nearly 1 out of 8 U.S. drug prisoners are locked up for pot.

Of course, several hundred thousand more Americans are arrested each year for violating marijuana laws, costing taxpayers another $8 billion dollars annually in criminal justice costs.

According to the most recent figures available from the FBI, police arrested an estimated 786,545 people on marijuana charges in 2005 -- more than twice the number of Americans arrested just 12 years ago. Among those arrested, about 88 percent -- some 696,074 Americans -- were charged with possession only. The remaining 90,471 individuals were charged with "sale/manufacture," a category that includes all cultivation offenses, even those where the marijuana was being grown for personal or medical use.

These totals are the highest ever recorded by the FBI, and make up 42.6 percent of all drug arrests in the United States. Nevertheless, self-reported pot use by adults, as well as the ready availability of marijuana on the black market, remains virtually unchanged.

Marijuana isn't a harmless substance, and those who argue for a change in the drug's legal status do not claim it to be. However, pot's relative risks to the user and society are arguably fewer than those of alcohol and tobacco, and they do not warrant the expenses associated with targeting, arresting and prosecuting hundreds of thousands of Americans every year.

According to federal statistics, about 94 million Americans -- that's 40 percent of the U.S. population age 12 or older -- self-identify as having used cannabis at some point in their lives, and relatively few acknowledge having suffered significant deleterious health effects due to their use. America's public policies should reflect this reality, not deny it. It makes no sense to continue to treat nearly half of all Americans as criminals.

blaise
03-30-2009, 10:44 AM
So, how about limiting it to developed countries instead of throwing in obvious outliers like Somalia? What's your explanation for the difference in incarceration rates between the US and developed nations?

See the second part of my post. And if their population is equally criminally minded, do you know whether their streets are any safer or more dangerous than ours?
Are you saying that the sole difference between the rates of incarceration between the US and other nations is the inefficiency of our prison system, and that the difference in numbers proves their is better than ours?
I'm not suggesting that our prison system is flawless. I'm saying you can't look at a map and say they do it better just because they incarcerate fewer people.
Maybe in other nations they don't have a public that vocally demands their representatives lock criminals up the way ours does. They may have a different view on justice or values or moral standards. You can't just look at it as "If this, then this" It's too simplistic.

KC native
03-30-2009, 10:44 AM
In its current state it isn't.

ok....?

So how would it be structured to be a deterrent?

Brock
03-30-2009, 10:45 AM
Why does it matter if it's a deterrent or not? Let the punishment fit the crime.

blaise
03-30-2009, 10:47 AM
Article about weed heads locked up. It's from 07 but I doubt much has changed since then

It's higher than I thought, however the article doesn't state that the prisoners in question were charged solely with marijuana posession. They may have been convicted of posessing multiple drugs. But like I said, I really don't have a problem with legalizing pot.

blaise
03-30-2009, 10:49 AM
ok....?

So how would it be structured to be a deterrent?

Just because people still commit murder, it doesn't somebody wasn't deterred from committing a murder for fear of the death penalty.

patteeu
03-30-2009, 10:50 AM
That's not deterrence, that's recidivism.

Idiot.

It's maximum deterrent wrt subsequent crimes. It also reduces recidivism.

KC native
03-30-2009, 10:53 AM
I would like to see the amount of people incarcerated for marijuana. I'm not against legalizing it, but I think the amount of people in prison for it is probably lower than you'd think. I doubt the second part of your plan would reduce prison population very much, if at all.
As far as the third part, I think the Federal Prisons do a lot to try and prevent recidivism. If prisoners are inclined, I think there's jobs they can do in there that teach skills. Ironically, there's liberal groups that protest this because they say the government is capitalizing on prison labor. As far as State Prisons go, I think most correctional employees are just doing their best not to get killed, and not get sued by the prisoners (of course there's bad apples, but I think that percent is low). I just don't think they have any time or money beyond what they have now.
That links into your fourth point- where's the flood of monet coming from? I realize you can argue that it's an investment because if you keep these people out of prisons you won't have to pay to keep them incarcerated, but there's not a whole lot of extra cash around to pay for programs like that. Especially when hard working people are out there trying to make ends meet.
It's a problem, no doubt, but I don't see much changing. There just isn't the money.

Sorry but the reality of prison is much different than what you state. I have several friends who have been to prison and a few that will be there a decade or more. Jobs programs, drug programs, and education programs have all seen tremendous cut backs for the last 20-30 years (it may be longer). One of the major reasons for the cutbacks is it's easy for a "tough" on crime politician to say "we can cut money in the prison system because they screwed up so they don't deserve XYZ (insert whatever program)."

Second, on jail guards. Jail guards aren't like police officers (where the majoritiy are good). Jail guards typically have minimal education. They are trained to have an us vs them mentality which leads to all types of abuse.

KC native
03-30-2009, 10:55 AM
Why does it matter if it's a deterrent or not? Let the punishment fit the crime.

If you really want to punish them. Let them rot in jail for the rest of their lives where they can think about what they did every day. The death penalty only shortens it for them.

KC native
03-30-2009, 10:57 AM
It's maximum deterrent wrt subsequent crimes. It also reduces recidivism.

:spock: If someone gets locked up for life for murder then it reduces recidivism.

dirk digler
03-30-2009, 10:57 AM
ok....?

So how would it be structured to be a deterrent?

Line them up and shoot them plus it would be cheaper. :D

HonestChieffan
03-30-2009, 10:58 AM
Sorry but the reality of prison is much different than what you state. I have several friends who have been to prison and a few that will be there a decade or more. Jobs programs, drug programs, and education programs have all seen tremendous cut backs for the last 20-30 years (it may be longer). One of the major reasons for the cutbacks is it's easy for a "tough" on crime politician to say "we can cut money in the prison system because they screwed up so they don't deserve XYZ (insert whatever program)."

Second, on jail guards. Jail guards aren't like police officers (where the majoritiy are good). Jail guards typically have minimal education. They are trained to have an us vs them mentality which leads to all types of abuse.

So...prisons are not supposed to be nice and spending a lot more wont change squat. Its a bigger rathole that trying to spend our way to higher grades by dumb kids. There is only so much money can fix. And prisons would be pretty low on the list.

Oh and they are not guards. They are Correctional Officers. Guards as a term went out 10 years ago becuse it had a bad connotation with the inmates.

KC native
03-30-2009, 10:59 AM
Line them up and shoot them plus it would be cheaper. :D

So, all those people who have been wrongly convicted and then subsequently released doesn't give you any qualms about how the death penalty works in our country?

patteeu
03-30-2009, 10:59 AM
:spock: If someone gets locked up for life for murder then it reduces recidivism.

That's true, unless they're let out or escape. The death penalty is determinative.

blaise
03-30-2009, 11:02 AM
Sorry but the reality of prison is much different than what you state. I have several friends who have been to prison and a few that will be there a decade or more. Jobs programs, drug programs, and education programs have all seen tremendous cut backs for the last 20-30 years (it may be longer). One of the major reasons for the cutbacks is it's easy for a "tough" on crime politician to say "we can cut money in the prison system because they screwed up so they don't deserve XYZ (insert whatever program)."

Second, on jail guards. Jail guards aren't like police officers (where the majoritiy are good). Jail guards typically have minimal education. They are trained to have an us vs them mentality which leads to all types of abuse.


I know far more about it that you think, and more than probaly almost anyone here, and I won't go into the reasons why I know. So no, I don't believe the reality is far different from what I state. Why should I assume your friends are giving you any sort of objective opinion?
And since when does a guards education level dictate their level of professionalism? You're using generalized statements about a group of people to fit into your argument.
And one of the major reasons for cutbacks is because states, cities and other jurisdictions are broke.

KC native
03-30-2009, 11:02 AM
So...prisons are not supposed to be nice and spending a lot more wont change squat. Its a bigger rathole that trying to spend our way to higher grades by dumb kids. There is only so much money can fix. And prisons would be pretty low on the list.

Oh and they are not guards. They are Correctional Officers. Guards as a term went out 10 years ago becuse it had a bad connotation with the inmates.

So, do you want prisons to rehabilitate prisoners or just release them back on the street after they've gotten a first rate criminal education? Sounds like a bright idea to me. :rolleyes:

dirk digler
03-30-2009, 11:03 AM
So...prisons are not supposed to be nice and spending a lot more wont change squat. Its a bigger rathole that trying to spend our way to higher grades by dumb kids. There is only so much money can fix. And prisons would be pretty low on the list.

Oh and they are not guards. They are Correctional Officers. Guards as a term went out 10 years ago becuse it had a bad connotation with the inmates.

The one thing I will say is that we need to reform our prison system so that we can reduce recidivism rates because the way it works now is that prison is just broken into illegal gangs running the damn thing. So when people get out they are going to go back to committing crime.

dirk digler
03-30-2009, 11:04 AM
So, all those people who have been wrongly convicted and then subsequently released doesn't give you any qualms about how the death penalty works in our country?

The death penalty doesn't work in this country and yes there is going to be mistakes that is life.

HonestChieffan
03-30-2009, 11:06 AM
So, do you want prisons to rehabilitate prisoners or just release them back on the street after they've gotten a first rate criminal education? Sounds like a bright idea to me. :rolleyes:

Rehabilitation...now there is a idea that is soon to pay off ......

patteeu
03-30-2009, 11:07 AM
The handwringing over our treatment of Gitmo detainees is absurd when you realize that common prisoners face worse conditions in our domestic prisons than Gitmo detainees have had to bear. Whether those worse conditions are bad enough to justify being described by Senator Webb as "off the charts" or not is a different issue. I do think that our prisoners should be protected from inmate-on-inmate crime while behind bars, though, and if that's not happening something should be done to make it happen. Domestic prisoners shouldn't face worse conditions than our Gitmo detainees.

KC native
03-30-2009, 11:09 AM
The handwringing over our treatment of Gitmo detainees is absurd when you realize that common prisoners face worse conditions in our domestic prisons than Gitmo detainees have had to bear. Whether those worse conditions are bad enough to justify being described by Senator Webb as "off the charts" or not is a different issue. I do think that our prisoners should be protected from inmate-on-inmate crime while behind bars, though, and if that's not happening something should be done to make it happen. Domestic prisoners shouldn't face worse conditions than our Gitmo detainees.

No, GITMO detainees don't have it better than US prisoners. Systematic torture isn't the same as worrying about inmate on inmate crime.

blaise
03-30-2009, 11:10 AM
The handwringing over our treatment of Gitmo detainees is absurd when you realize that common prisoners face worse conditions in our domestic prisons than Gitmo detainees have had to bear. Whether those worse conditions are bad enough to justify being described by Senator Webb as "off the charts" or not is a different issue. I do think that our prisoners should be protected from inmate-on-inmate crime while behind bars, though, and if that's not happening something should be done to make it happen. Domestic prisoners shouldn't face worse conditions than our Gitmo detainees.

There's a differentiation to be made between federal and state prisons. Federal Prisoners have it relatively good. (Not that they're having a party, but the Federal Prisons are funded much better than State Prisons. Believe me, if you're going to prison you'd rather be in a federal one)
State Prisons are another story, and again that goes to funding a lot of the time. People in the state just aren't going to be willing to throw money to make things nicer for prisoners.

patteeu
03-30-2009, 11:13 AM
The way cameras are being installed all over the place to monitor traffic at intersections and even to monitor almost everything in places like London, you'd think that we could develop a pretty effective surveillance system in a prison. If we have enough surveillance, we should be able to weed out the inmates who participate in criminal activity within the prison walls (particular violent crimes against one another) and we ought to throw the book at them when we catch them, either sending them to hardcore prisons, putting them in solitary confinement, or executing them when we do. There ought to be no tomorrow for an inmate who kills, rapes, or otherwise violently attacks another inmate.

patteeu
03-30-2009, 11:14 AM
No, GITMO detainees don't have it better than US prisoners. Systematic torture isn't the same as worrying about inmate on inmate crime.

Systematic torture at Gitmo is either a myth or a dramatic misuse of words depending on what you mean by the term.

KC native
03-30-2009, 11:18 AM
Systematic torture at Gitmo is either a myth or a dramatic misuse of words depending on what you mean by the term.

Wow, bury your head in the sand much?

Detainee Tortured, Says U.S. Official
Trial Overseer Cites 'Abusive' Methods Against 9/11 Suspect

By Bob Woodward
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 14, 2009; A01

The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, interrogating him with techniques that included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a "life-threatening condition."

"We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani," said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. "His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that's why I did not refer the case" for prosecution.

Crawford, a retired judge who served as general counsel for the Army during the Reagan administration and as Pentagon inspector general when Dick Cheney was secretary of defense, is the first senior Bush administration official responsible for reviewing practices at Guantanamo to publicly state that a detainee was tortured.

Crawford, 61, said the combination of the interrogation techniques, their duration and the impact on Qahtani's health led to her conclusion. "The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent. . . . You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge" to call it torture, she said.

Military prosecutors said in November that they would seek to refile charges against Qahtani, 30, based on subsequent interrogations that did not employ harsh techniques. But Crawford, who dismissed war crimes charges against him in May 2008, said in the interview that she would not allow the prosecution to go forward.

Qahtani was denied entry into the United States a month before the Sept. 11 attacks and was allegedly planning to be the plot's 20th hijacker. He was later captured in Afghanistan and transported to Guantanamo in January 2002. His interrogation took place over 50 days from November 2002 to January 2003, though he was held in isolation until April 2003.

"For 160 days his only contact was with the interrogators," said Crawford, who personally reviewed Qahtani's interrogation records and other military documents. "Forty-eight of 54 consecutive days of 18-to-20-hour interrogations. Standing naked in front of a female agent. Subject to strip searches. And insults to his mother and sister."

At one point he was threatened with a military working dog named Zeus, according to a military report. Qahtani "was forced to wear a woman's bra and had a thong placed on his head during the course of his interrogation" and "was told that his mother and sister were whores." With a leash tied to his chains, he was led around the room "and forced to perform a series of dog tricks," the report shows.

The interrogation, portions of which have been previously described by other news organizations, including The Washington Post, was so intense that Qahtani had to be hospitalized twice at Guantanamo with bradycardia, a condition in which the heart rate falls below 60 beats a minute and which in extreme cases can lead to heart failure and death. At one point Qahtani's heart rate dropped to 35 beats per minute, the record shows.

The Qahtani case underscores the challenges facing the incoming Obama administration as it seeks to close the controversial detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including the dilemmas posed by individuals considered too dangerous to release but whose legal status is uncertain. FBI "clean teams," which gather evidence without using information gained during controversial interrogations, have established that Qahtani intended to join the 2001 hijackers. Mohamed Atta, the plot's leader, who died steering American Airlines Flight 11 into the World Trade Center, went to the Orlando airport to meet Qahtani on Aug. 4, 2001, but the young Saudi was denied entry by a suspicious immigration inspector.

"There's no doubt in my mind he would've been on one of those planes had he gained access to the country in August 2001," Crawford said of Qahtani, who remains detained at Guantanamo. "He's a muscle hijacker. . . . He's a very dangerous man. What do you do with him now if you don't charge him and try him? I would be hesitant to say, 'Let him go.' "

That, she said, is a decision that President-elect Barack Obama will have to make. Obama repeated Sunday that he intends to close the Guantanamo center but acknowledged the challenges involved. "It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize," Obama said on ABC's "This Week," "and we are going to get it done, but part of the challenge that you have is that you have a bunch of folks that have been detained, many of whom may be very dangerous, who have not been put on trial or have not gone through some adjudication. And some of the evidence against them may be tainted, even though it's true."

President Bush and Vice President Cheney have said that interrogations never involved torture. "The United States does not torture. It's against our laws, and it's against our values," Bush asserted on Sept. 6, 2006, when 14 high-value detainees were transferred to Guantanamo from secret CIA prisons. And in a interview last week with the Weekly Standard, Cheney said, "And I think on the left wing of the Democratic Party, there are some people who believe that we really tortured."

"I sympathize with the intelligence gatherers in those days after 9/11, not knowing what was coming next and trying to gain information to keep us safe," said Crawford, a lifelong Republican. "But there still has to be a line that we should not cross. And unfortunately what this has done, I think, has tainted everything going forward."

"The Department has always taken allegations of abuse seriously," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said in an e-mail. "We have conducted more than a dozen investigations and reviews of our detention operations, including specifically the interrogation of Mohammed Al Qahtani, the alleged 20th hijacker. They concluded the interrogation methods used at GTMO, including the special techniques used on Qahtani in 2002, were lawful. However, subsequent to those reviews, the Department adopted new and more restrictive policies and procedures for interrogation and detention operations. Some of the aggressive questioning techniques used on Al Qahtani, although permissible at the time, are no longer allowed in the updated Army field manual."

After the Supreme Court ruled in the 2006 Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case that the original military commission system for Guantanamo Bay violated the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions, Congress rewrote the rules and passed the Military Commissions Act, creating a new structure for trials by commissions. The act bans torture but permits "coercive" testimony.

Crawford said she believes that coerced testimony should not be allowed. "You don't allow it in a regular court," said Crawford, who served as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces from 1991 to 2006.

Under the act, Crawford is a neutral official overseeing charges, trials and sentencing, with ultimate decision-making power over all cases coming before the military commissions.

In May 2008, Crawford ordered the war-crimes charges against Qahtani dropped but did not state publicly that the harsh interrogations were the reason. "It did shock me," Crawford said. "I was upset by it. I was embarrassed by it. If we tolerate this and allow it, then how can we object when our servicemen and women, or others in foreign service, are captured and subjected to the same techniques? How can we complain? Where is our moral authority to complain? Well, we may have lost it."

The harsh techniques used against Qahtani, she said, were approved by then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. "A lot of this happened on his watch," she said. Last month, a Senate Armed Services Committee report concluded that "Rumsfeld's authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo Bay was a direct cause of detainee abuse there." The committee found the interrogation techniques harsh and abusive but stopped short of calling them torture.

An aide to the former defense secretary accused the committee chairman, Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), of pursuing a politically motivated "false narrative" that is "unencumbered by the preponderance of the facts."

In June 2005, Time magazine obtained 83 pages of Qahtani's interrogation log and published excerpts that showed some of the extreme abuse. The report of a military investigation released the same year concluded that Qahtani's interrogations were "degrading and abusive."

Crawford said she does not know whether five other detainees accused of participating in the Sept. 11 plot, including alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, were tortured. "I assume torture," she said, noting that CIA Director Michael V. Hayden has said publicly that Mohammed was one of three detainees waterboarded by the CIA. Crawford declined to say whether she considers waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning, to be torture.

The five detainees face capital murder charges, and Crawford said she let the charges go forward because the FBI satisfied her that they gathered information without using harsh techniques. She noted that Mohammed has acknowledged his Sept. 11 role in court, whereas Qahtani has recanted his self-incriminating statements to the FBI.

"There is no doubt he was tortured," Gitanjali S. Gutierrez, Qahtani's civilian attorney, said this week. "He has loss of concentration and memory loss, and he suffers from paranoia. . . . He wants just to get back to Saudi Arabia, get married and have a family." She said Qahtani "adamantly denies he planned to join the 9/11 attack. . . . He has no connections to extremists." Gutierrez said she believes Saudi Arabia has an effective rehabilitation program and Qahtani ought to be returned there.

When she came in as convening authority in 2007, Crawford said, "the prosecution was unprepared" to bring cases to trial. Even after four years working possible cases, "they were lacking in experience and judgment and leadership," she said. "A prosecutor has an ethical obligation to review all the evidence before making a charging decision. And they didn't have access to all the evidence, including medical records, interrogation logs, and they were making charging decisions without looking at everything."

She noted that prosecutors are required to determine whether any evidence possessed by the government could be exculpatory; if it is, they must turn it over to defense lawyers. It took more than a year, she said -- and the intervention of Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England -- to ensure they had access to all the information, much of it classified.

Crawford said detainee interrogation practices are a blot on the reputation of the United States and its military judicial system. "There's an assumption out there that everybody was tortured. And everybody wasn't tortured. But unfortunately perception is reality." The system she oversees probably can't function now, she said. "Certainly in the public's mind, or politically speaking, and certainly in the international community" it may be forever tainted. "It may be too late."

She said Bush was right to create a system to try unlawful enemy combatants captured in the war on terrorism. The implementation, however, was flawed, she said. "I think he hurt his own effort. . . . I think someone should acknowledge that mistakes were made and that they hurt the effort and take responsibility for it."

"We learn as children it's easier to ask for forgiveness than it is for permission," Crawford said. "I think the buck stops in the Oval Office."

blaise
03-30-2009, 11:20 AM
The way cameras are being installed all over the place to monitor traffic at intersections and even to monitor almost everything in places like London, you'd think that we could develop a pretty effective surveillance system in a prison. If we have enough surveillance, we should be able to weed out the inmates who participate in criminal activity within the prison walls (particular violent crimes against one another) and we ought to throw the book at them when we catch them, either sending them to hardcore prisons, putting them in solitary confinement, or executing them when we do. There ought to be no tomorrow for an inmate who kills, rapes, or otherwise violently attacks another inmate.

They do videotape a lot in Federal Prisons. For the reasons you stated and other reasons.

Brock
03-30-2009, 11:29 AM
"Forty-eight of 54 consecutive days of 18-to-20-hour interrogations. Standing naked in front of a female agent. Subject to strip searches. And insults to his mother and sister."

At one point he was threatened with a military working dog named Zeus, according to a military report. Qahtani "was forced to wear a woman's bra and had a thong placed on his head during the course of his interrogation" and "was told that his mother and sister were whores." With a leash tied to his chains, he was led around the room "and forced to perform a series of dog tricks," the report shows.



Meh, this is a pretty loose definition of torture.

KC native
03-30-2009, 11:30 AM
Meh, this is a pretty loose definition of torture.

If it meets the legal definition of torture then it is torture.

Brock
03-30-2009, 11:33 AM
If it meets the legal definition of torture then it is torture.

Speaking for myself, I'm not bothered by it.

dirk digler
03-30-2009, 11:35 AM
The way cameras are being installed all over the place to monitor traffic at intersections and even to monitor almost everything in places like London, you'd think that we could develop a pretty effective surveillance system in a prison. If we have enough surveillance, we should be able to weed out the inmates who participate in criminal activity within the prison walls (particular violent crimes against one another) and we ought to throw the book at them when we catch them, either sending them to hardcore prisons, putting them in solitary confinement, or executing them when we do. There ought to be no tomorrow for an inmate who kills, rapes, or otherwise violently attacks another inmate.

I totally agree. I don't know exactly why they don't have cameras in cells or maybe some prisons do.

patteeu
03-30-2009, 11:42 AM
Wow, bury your head in the sand much?

Not really.

1. This article is about a single detainee. That's not "systematic" torture, even if we accept that this man was indeed tortured. He was one of hundreds of detainees.

2. More importantly, even in this one man's case, Ms. Crawford indicates that the coercive techniques used were not individually torturous, but instead that the compound impact of those techniques over time were allowed to degrade the man's health to a point which led her to conclude that the entire experience amounted to torture. While the individual techniques were authorized, there is no reason to believe that allowing the detainee's health to degrade was a part of the program. The implementation of the non-torturous systematic interrogation program was apparently flawed in this man's case. Again, this is not something that can accurately be called systematic torture, but instead represents an outlier situation where the parameters of the program were exceeded by what Ms. Crawford calls "overly aggressive and too persistent" application of authorized techniques.

3. The treatment of detainees at Gitmo evolved over time. This man's experience took place early in that facility's existence. Over time, additional safeguards have been put into place to prevent undesired outcomes like his. Your article points out that some techniques were abandoned completely. In some of the testimony that Direckshun has posted from a former member of the military detail at Gitmo, it was evident that doctors were employed to prevent the non-torturous techniques used on the detainees from degrading their health to an unacceptable degree.

patteeu
03-30-2009, 11:44 AM
If it meets the legal definition of torture then it is torture.

There are different legal definitions of torture, not just one consistent definition. And I don't care how many jurisdictions call panties-on-the-head torture, it's a ridiculous devaluation of the word to use it in such a way.

KC native
03-30-2009, 11:50 AM
Not really.

1. This article is about a single detainee. That's not "systematic" torture, even if we accept that this man was indeed tortured. He was one of hundreds of detainees.

2. More importantly, even in this one man's case, Ms. Crawford indicates that the coercive techniques used were not individually torturous, but instead that the compound impact of those techniques over time were allowed to degrade the man's health to a point which led her to conclude that the entire experience amounted to torture. While the individual techniques were authorized, there is no reason to believe that allowing the detainee's health to degrade was a part of the program. The implementation of the non-torturous systematic interrogation program was apparently flawed in this man's case. Again, this is not something that can accurately be called systematic torture, but instead represents an outlier situation where the parameters of the program were exceeded by what Ms. Crawford calls "overly aggressive and too persistent" application of authorized techniques.

3. The treatment of detainees at Gitmo evolved over time. This man's experience took place early in that facility's existence. Over time, additional safeguards have been put into place to prevent undesired outcomes like his. Your article points out that some techniques were abandoned completely. In some of the testimony that Direckshun has posted from a former member of the military detail at Gitmo, it was evident that doctors were employed to prevent the non-torturous techniques used on the detainees from degrading their health to an unacceptable degree.

Ok, so even though US officials have admitted that this has been done to multiple detainees and that they've had several suicide attempts and hunger strikes because of their treatment, you are going to say that it's an isolated case?

patteeu
03-30-2009, 12:31 PM
Ok, so even though US officials have admitted that this has been done to multiple detainees and that they've had several suicide attempts and hunger strikes because of their treatment, you are going to say that it's an isolated case?

Your article only referenced one official, but yes I'm going to say that there has been no systematic torture at Gitmo. BTW, I don't believe that there are multiple officials who have "admitted that this has been done to multiple detainees". Suicide attempts and hunger strikes are meaningless in and of themselves.

Direckshun
03-30-2009, 03:03 PM
Domestic prisoners shouldn't face worse conditions than our Gitmo detainees.

Domestic prisoners have actually been convicted in a court of law.

Direckshun
03-30-2009, 03:04 PM
Your article only referenced one official, but yes I'm going to say that there has been no systematic torture at Gitmo.

I'll side with the Red Cross on this one.

Direckshun
03-30-2009, 03:05 PM
More importantly, even in this one man's case, Ms. Crawford indicates that the coercive techniques used were not individually torturous, but instead that the compound impact of those techniques over time were allowed to degrade the man's health to a point which led her to conclude that the entire experience amounted to torture.

That's torture.

Direckshun
03-30-2009, 03:06 PM
Meh, this is a pretty loose definition of torture.

How about locking a man in an airtight coffin and pounding the shit out of it?

Torture? Yes or no?

Sully
03-30-2009, 03:07 PM
Domestic prisoners have actually been convicted in a court of law.

Ding!!!

Direckshun
03-30-2009, 03:07 PM
Wow, bury your head in the sand much?

It's not that patteeu buries his head, it's that he defers to the Bush administration.

Nightfyre
03-30-2009, 03:08 PM
The next big issue that china is starting to press is how we will deal with our national debt. China will have a problem, as will we, if the answer is "print money."
Posted via Mobile Device

Point proven.
Posted via Mobile Device

patteeu
03-30-2009, 03:52 PM
I'll side with the Red Cross on this one.

I'll side with the facts and a reasonable definition of "torture" instead. The ICRC's definition of torture includes "humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions". Their threshold is unreasonably low. I don't have a problem with the use of any of those measures as long as the physical health of the victim is not severely impacted and as long as severe pain isn't inflicted.

patteeu
03-30-2009, 03:56 PM
That's torture.

It's not "systematic torture" and IMO it's more responsibly described as an aberration in which non-torturous methods were applied inappropriately to avoid problems like the way that you and KC native have exaggerated (in your own minds as well as in your postings) what has gone on at Gitmo.

patteeu
03-30-2009, 03:58 PM
Domestic prisoners have actually been convicted in a court of law.

It sounds like you're arguing that because of this fact domestic prisoners SHOULD be less well treated than Gitmo detainees. Is that what you're saying? If not, so what?

patteeu
03-30-2009, 03:58 PM
Point proven.
Posted via Mobile Device

:LOL: Nice one.

Direckshun
03-30-2009, 04:19 PM
It sounds like you're arguing that because of this fact domestic prisoners SHOULD be less well treated than Gitmo detainees. Is that what you're saying?
Somebody convicted of a crime should be treated worse than somebody who has not convicted a crime, yes.

Direckshun
03-30-2009, 04:20 PM
It's not "systematic torture"

So what?

It's torture.

Direckshun
03-30-2009, 04:21 PM
I'll side with the facts and a reasonable definition of "torture" instead. The ICRC's definition of torture includes "humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions". Their threshold is unreasonably low. I don't have a problem with the use of any of those measures as long as the physical health of the victim is not severely impacted and as long as severe pain isn't inflicted.
What would be the use of any of those acts if severe pain wasn't inflicted?

Brock
03-30-2009, 05:30 PM
How about locking a man in an airtight coffin and pounding the shit out of it?

Torture? Yes or no?

It might be. Why are you asking me this? All I said is that making a guy walk around in women's underwear is stretching the limit of the word torture.

banyon
03-30-2009, 06:50 PM
That's not deterrence, that's recidivism.

Idiot.

I *really* hate to stick up for him, but that's actually a definite term called "specific deterrence" which some death penalty advocates do bring up.

banyon
03-30-2009, 07:04 PM
I probably would have answered this question differently two years ago, but at least in the State of Kansas I am not for reducing the size of our prisons. They're plenty overcrowded as it is, and usually the nonviolent drug offenders are only there for a short stay.

I'm all for getting rid of imprisoning pot heads, but there aren't as many there as you might think. At least in this state, unless people have done something pretty violent, they get a ton of chances. For most people it goes like this, I convict them, they get probation. They get probation unless they've committed two violent felonies previously. Then they screw up on probation. Then they get their probation reinstated, usually twice. Then after the third time they screw up their probation, they are ordered to serve the time. But it's usually reduced, then they get a percentage reduced while they are in.

For most people, you have to really be almost willfully defiant to wind up in prison on nonviolent charges. And the reason recidivism is so high, I would submit, is because the people who are there have already screwed up so much that they are a subset demographically of the population that is predisposed to be recidivist. After all, we don't send the people willing to straighten themselves out there in the first place.

But i agree that it's stupid and counterproductive to send cannibis users (even those that continue to abuse) to prison.

Direckshun
03-30-2009, 07:25 PM
I *really* hate to stick up for him, but that's actually a definite term called "specific deterrence" which some death penalty advocates do bring up.

Fair enough. I think pat brought that up too.

patteeu
03-30-2009, 08:40 PM
Somebody convicted of a crime should be treated worse than somebody who has not convicted a crime, yes.

These are two different groups of people being held for completely different reasons. One group is being held for committing crimes and the other is being held for illegally fighting against us in a war situation. The latter aren't merely people who have not been convicted of a crime. We'll have to disagree on the relevance of a conviction to their treatment, I suppose.

patteeu
03-30-2009, 08:44 PM
What would be the use of any of those acts if severe pain wasn't inflicted?

The purpose is to break their will to resist interrogation. It's hard to imagine how humiliation and solitary confinement could even inflict significant pain, much less severe pain. And temperature extremes/stress positions are intended to create significant discomfort that wears on the mind, not to inflict severe pain.

Direckshun
03-30-2009, 09:14 PM
intended to create significant discomfort that wears on the mind, not to inflict severe pain.

Your Orwell is in hyperdrive, compadre.

Direckshun
03-30-2009, 09:15 PM
The latter aren't merely people who have not been convicted of a crime.

Absolutely. They are people who have not been convicted for ANYTHING.

patteeu
03-31-2009, 05:35 AM
Your Orwell is in hyperdrive, compadre.

Not really. I just paint with finer brushes than you do.