What the US is becoming: Our prisons
The simultaneous effort to put more people in prisons (driven by idiotic drug laws, mandatory sentences, and a private prison industry doing all it can through funneling a portion of their profits back to legislators—kickback, in effect—to make more offenses require prison time and pass things like the 3-strikes law (a third felony conviction gets a mandatory life sentence)) and also the effort to provide less revenue to states (by cutting taxes) means that the US prison sentence in many states is as bad as any third-world dictator’s prison.
Take a look at this story by John Rudolf:
Late on the night of August 4, 2010, a badly beaten young man arrived at the trauma ward of Jackson Hospital here. Although the patient was hardly a flight risk, security was tight and prison guards crowded into the emergency room as doctors began treatment.
The patient’s limp body spoke to the savagery of an assault that had left deep contusions on his legs and torso, and inflamed knots bulging from his head and face. He was unresponsive, with fixed and dilated pupils, and doctors quickly diagnosed a traumatic brain injury. Only a ventilator kept him alive. He never regained consciousness and died the next day.
His name was Rocrast Mack. An Alabama prison inmate, his death at age 24 came at the hands of six corrections officers, who took turns battering him with their fists, feet and batons in retribution for a minor altercation with a female guard earlier that night, according to witness accounts and prison records.
Civil rights advocates call Mack’s death an avoidable tragedy, the inevitable product of a profoundly dysfunctional state corrections system in Alabama that ranks among the very worst America has to offer.
It is a system flooded with low-level drug offenders like Mack, who was sentenced to 20 years behind bars after pleading guilty to selling $10 worth of crack cocaine to an undercover cop in 2009.
Alabama is also emblematic of a broader problem facing America’s prison system: In many states, there simply isn’t enough room to hold all of the people who are incarcerated. Against that tableau, inmates often born and bred in hard luck circumstances now find themselves mired in a loop of violence that extends from the street and into prisons themselves.
Yet even in a nation that has little to boast about in terms of prison efficiency and quality, Alabama stands out for what appears to be the sheer brutality and freewheeling nature of its corrections system.
Starved of funds, the state’s aging prisons suffer from the worst overcrowding in the nation, operating at an average of 190 percent of their design capacity. Ventress Correctional Facility, where Mack died, is an outlier even by this standard. Built in 1990 and designed to accommodate just 650 men, the facility now holds 1,665 prisoners — more than 255 percent of its capacity. . .