Det er neppe tilfeldig at flere av soldatene bak mishandlingen i Abu Ghraib har bakgrunn fra fengsler. Behandlingen av fanger i amerikanske fengsler minner om Abu Ghraib, skriver Financial Times.

US corrections experts and former inmates agree that the Iraqi detainees experienced the standard fare of US prisons, where authorities largely ignore abuse by guards, squalid conditions and danger from other inmates.

«In the United States there is an implicit mandate that our prisons really need to punish,» said James Alan Fox, a professor of criminal justice at Northeastern University in Boston. «As far as many politicians are concerned rehabilitation and treatment are no longer a great concern.»

«Just like in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, nakedness is often used in American prisons to humiliate and to punish,» agrees Alan Elsner, author of Gates of Injustice, a study of corruption and brutality in US prisons.

«Dogs are often used to intimidate and bite. Sexual intimidation and abuse occurs not only between inmates but also between staff and inmates – it happens frequently,» says Mr Elsner, a Reuters journalist. The «brutality of prison life» and widespread human rights violations pervade the US prison system, he says.

Koblingen er direkte:

Lane McCotter, who reopened Abu Ghraib last year, formerly ran the Utah department of corrections but was forced to resign in 1997 when a prisoner died while shackled naked to a chair for 16 hours.

Mr McCotter then joined a private prison security company before John Ashcroft, US attorney-general, sent a team of prison officials to rebuild Iraq’s criminal justice system. Mr McCotter left Iraq when Abu Ghraib, a notorious torture centre under Saddam Hussein, reopened for US-held captives in September.

Men ifølge ekspertene FT har snakket med, er mishandling i fengslene et ikke-tema i amerikansk offentlighet. Det er heller ikke mulig å klage for fangene. Ganske alvorlige anklager i et demokrati.

«There is no question that abuses take place in US prisons. It’s the best-kept secret in the system,» says Herbert Hoelter, director of the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, a prison-reform organisation.

«The buzzword for the prison warden is population management,» he says. «When you go to American correctional association conventions, it’s all about technology and stun-guns and barbed wire, not care.»

Nearly 2.1m people are held in US prisons today – an incarceration rate five to 10 times greater than that of any other democracy.

Abused Iraqis ‘experienced standard fare of US jails’
By Salamander Davoudi
Financial Times; May 29, 2004