An ignored and unseen crisis in American prisons and jails

A powerful and truthful Op-ed by the president of FAMM ( Families Against Mandatory Minimums ) Kevin Ring. We have known for years that our prisons and jails in the United States are less than desirable. But over the last few years, and with the age of digital technology, we are actually SEEING the deplorable conditions we sentence people to live in. The punishment for committing crimes in America is the loss of freedom by imprisonment, not death by medical neglect or abuse. Readers of this blog have seen the photos of inside some of our prisons and there is no excuse-when the national corrections budget tops $182 BILLION per year, and human rights violations are abhorrent, we MUST do better.

There is a humanitarian crisis in our nation’s prisons and jails. Many Americans likely don’t know or care about this crisis, but they should. A recent report showed that half of all American adults has had an immediate family member serve time in prison or jail. And the rest of us are paying for these facilities and the salaries of those who commit abuses. We can’t afford to look away anymore, because the people we’re ignoring are our friends, neighbors, and families.

Every day there’s another story. In Alabama, the Justice Department recently concluded that the level of violence, sexual abuse, and weapons in that state’s prisons has created conditions that violate the Constitution. Arizona’s governor was forced to convene a task force to determine why broken cell locks, which led to the death of a state prisoner and assaults on corrections officers, were neglected for years.

In Florida, a dozen former and current employees at one prison confided to a local newspaper reporter that some of their colleagues had physically abused and starved prisoners. Last month, a mentally ill woman was forced to give birth to a child while left alone in an isolation cell of a Florida jail. And in Ohio, a 36-year-old veteran being held on drug charges committed suicide earlier this month, becoming the ninth person to die in Cleveland’s notoriously inhumane Cuyahoga County jail during the past year.

What is going on? Why is this happening?

As someone who has served time in federal prison and now runs a nonprofit organization fighting for sentencing and prison reform, I see two main reasons for the barbaric conditions in our nation’s prisons and jails.

The first is that many people believe that those who commit crimes deserve whatever happens to them. When they say, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time,” that includes anything that might happen to you while you are locked up. After all, it’s your fault you are there.

Continue Reading at: Washington Examiner

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