Tag Archives: prison

San Pedro Prison In Bolivia To Be Closed

San Pedro prison in La Paz is famous throughout the world as among the most interesting sights to visit while on a tourist vacation in the capital city. The prison is unique in that tourists can pay bribes to enter, shop at stalls run by the prisoners, stay for dinner inside with the inmates and even purchase some crack, cocaine or marijuana. A British couple were told they could not enter and Matt responded by saying, “what a bummer. This was one of Bolivia’s main attractions. Well, at least let’s take a picture of the gate.” Many Latin American prisons are notorious for violence and fear that result in gang killings and sexual attacks on new prisoners. But, San Pedro is like a small village. Laura Gonzalez, whose husband is a prisoner, expressed regrets at the news of prison changes. “We are very happy here. We have work, we have a home. Outside there is nothing.”

There is something sad when a nation has a prison which offers the only opportunity for many of its people to have work and a home. There is something sad when it is less violent inside than outside the jail. However, the government wants to make clear this prison is a prison. The prison head, Jose Cabrera, let inmates know: “the prisoners have to understand, that this is a penitentiary.”

So, what does the world term the state of Iran?

Mir Mousavi Denounces Iran Election As Illegal

There is an erie quiet in many parts of Iran as protestors gather together in hope of uncovering new ways to protest the brutality of their nation’s government against those expressing their ideas in public. Presidential challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi, refuses to remain silent and continues openly demanding a new election to replace the fraudulent stealing of the presidency by Ahmadinejad. “It is our historical responsibility to continue our protests and not to abandon our efforts to preserve the nation’s rights.” He wants the constitution respected and rights to free speech, assembly and the press allowed. Former Iranian reform president Mohammed Khatami said the “election” kwas a “velvet coup against democracy.” He noted that while the government press speaks of national reconciliation, protestors still are beaten and imprisoned.

The only response from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is to continue blaming everything on “foreign interference.’ Every time clerics or government officials make this claim it only reinforces belief within the country that the election was a fraud. The people of Iran witnessed their genuine complaint about an election lead to beatings by the government.

Unfortunately, hundreds are still in jail where they are beaten, and in some cases, there are reports of rape.

Guantanamo–American’s Shame

I was recently taken to task by a writer who informed me our Founding Fathers would have been proud of the Bush administration policy toward prisoners because they wanted America to be protected against foreign attack. The writer did not cite any specific “Founding Father” nor did he quote directly anything stated by one of those men two hundred years ago that would have led to the conclusion a literal interpretation of the Constitution would conclude use of torture and denial of trial is the original intent of the Founding Fathers. Naturally, I thought it appropriate to read the Constitution in order to determine if that was their original intent.

Amendment 6

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherin the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law; and to be informed of the nature and cause of accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”

Amendment 7
“In suits of common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved; and in fact, trial by jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States than according to the rules of common law.”

Amendment 8

“Excessive bail shall not be required, no excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.”

I believe the ORIGINAL INTENT OF THE CONSTITUTION is clear– no torture, the right to a fair trial. Somehow, I do not believe Madison or Hamilton or Franklin would have viewed depriving people of sleep, forcing them to endure cold temperatures or waterboarding as fitting in to their ideas concerning proper treatment of prisoners.

Throughout the Revolutionary War, George Washington insisted on following the rules of war as known in the 18th century. There is no record of torturing captured British soldiers on orders of George Washington. Our Founding Fathers were raised with British concepts regarding the rights of man and torture and denial of a jury trial certainly were not part of their concept of the rights of man.

It is time for President Obama to return to the original intent of the Constitution and allow fair and impartial jury trials for the accused.

Obama On Defensive About Guantanamo

President Obama offered a strong defense of his plans to close Guantanamo prison and initiate military tribunals which faced the problem that many cases could not proceed due to contaminated evidence. He made clear his opposition to the Bush torture and coercion approach to gathering information which Obama believes is too costly in terms of public opinion in the Arab world. “In short, they(torture approaches) did not advance our war and counter terrorism efforts.” The president is being attacked by Cheney and right wing groups which insist that torture has proved effective.

The problem is what to do with prisoners in Guantanamo since Republicans and the right wing media are spreading fear that allow those prisoners in a tight security prison and somehow they will break loose and terrorize communities, rape women, and do God knows what else. As Obama noted; “nobody has ever escaped from one of our federal super-max prisons.” I doubt if that information will temper criticism from right wingers.

Bush Legacy Lingers On And On And On…

Eight years ago, American forces invaded Afghanistan and during the hostilities captured dozens of men. Actually, after the fighting ended local Afghan forces turned over individuals t the Americans they claimed had been part of the Taliban. To this day, it is unclear whether some of those detainees were simply given to the Americans to settle grudges or because they were not wanted in Afghanistan. Eight years later, President Obama has decided to close the Guantanamo prison. A major problem is use of torture will make difficult introducing evidence into any trials these men might be forced to endure. No states in America are anxious to host in their prisons any of the detainees, no states want their court system to be involved in trying these cases, so the Obama administration is seeking the cooperation of European nations to take in the detainees.

Attorney General Holder is visiting European nations in hope of persuading some to take the prisoners. Hopefully, some of the detainees can be set free, some are unable to return to their own home countries because they will be subject to torture or death. Where does that leave America? On the short end of a very short stick. We wonder if there was a possibility the International Criminal Court could assume jurisdiction over the detainees. We are not certain if this is possible, but certainly it is worth investigating.

Putin’s Revenge Never Halts

Once upon a time in the land of Putin, there was a man who had made billions in business and then decided to turn his attention to the needs of his nation by engaging in the world of politics. Little did he realize that in Putin Russia, the man in charge decides who runs or does not run for the office of presidency and having a wealthy businessman place his name in opposition to the supreme leader of the land simply would not do. Mikhail Khodorkovsky who had created the Yukos oil company soon found himself arrested on bogus charges of criminal activity in the world of business and after a speedy trial sent off to Siberia to enjoy the wealth of that region from the inside of a jail.

He has been serving an eight year prison term and his request for a pardon was not only turned down but new charges have been level against him for embezzlement and grand theft. Most probably the only thing Mr. Kodorkovsky has stolen is a moment of freedom of expression and a desire to run for the presidency against the supreme leader and all wise man who runs Russia.

Reefer Toughness Fills Prisons But Doesn’t Work

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is prepared to defy the weight of medical and scientific opinion in order to issue togher new laws today on possessiion of cannabis. He is overruling his own expert advisers and will reverse the downgrading of illegal drugs from a Class B to a Class C substance. He is threatening cannabis smokers with five-yyear prison terms. There is evidence current cannabis on the streets is 20 to 30 times as strong as the cannibis smoked in the 1970. Brown has spoken of the “lethal” effects of the new strains as if they were comparable with the harm caused by heroin and crack cocaine. The prime minsiter apparently has bought into the hysteria which claims there is an epidemic of psychosis created by cannabis even though no medical evidence exists of such a situation.

Medical experts are concerned about any increase in the power of cannabis, but they regard the solution as lying in the area of education and support for cannabis users, not sending them to jail. Brown appointed an Advisory Council to investigate the situation and it recommended maintaining cannabis as a Class C level drug, but Brown has decided to go against the recommendation of his own panel. The advisory council concluded: “Th evidence suggests at worst that using cannabis increases the lifetime risk of developing schizophrenia by less than 1 per cent.” Medical experts have no evidence that schizphrenia has increased by any significant factor over the past thirty years.

The Gordon Brown road leads to building more jails, imprisoning more people, transforming a drug user into a criminal, and, most probably ensuring poor people and those from minority backgrounds are the ones placed in prisons. The friends and colleagues of Gordon Brown will not be going to jail.

First Hand Account Of Burmese Brutality To Monks

Alan Brown, correspondent for the London Telegraph made contact with a monk who had been jailed and beaten in Rangoon. According to the monk (his name can not be revealed) ‘Day and night, we had to sit on crowded rows with our heads bowed down. If we spoke, looked up or fell asleep, we would be hit. We weren’t allowed to move at all, not even to go to the lavatory– we had to just do it where we were sitting. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon, the guards would come and give us water, but it would be only one or two bottles for 50 people or more.” No medical treatment was provided the wounded. He said some monk who backed the government came and asked the monks to exchange their filthy clothes for new ones, but they refused on grounds they intended to be as they were when entering the prison. Burmese authorities admit to imprisoning 3000, and claim all but 109 have been released, but no one believes their version. The monk who underwent this brutality was finally released and told to leave the area.It is so shocking that members of the military could submit their own clergy to such brutal treatment. One can only wonder if among soldiers inflicting beatings, some are wondering how their behavior can be justified.