Tag Archives: prison

‘Does a Broken Country Have a Future?’

The Criminal Injustice System
Paul Craig Roberts

Ronald Cotton spent 11 years in prison because Jennifer Thompson provided eye witness testimony that he was the person who raped her. On March 9, National Public Radio revisited the story.

It turned out that Thompson was completely wrong, DNA evidence indicated that it was not Cotton but another man who had bragged about the rape.

Thompson asked Cotton for forgiveness, and he gave it. The two became friends and have collaborated on a book. On NPR Thompson said that eye witness testimony is incorrect 70 percent of the time.

I am familiar with psychological studies that conclude that eye witness accounts are wrong half of the time. That is enough to discredit eye witness testimony as evidence; yet, police and juries always bank on it.

Rape victims tend to be angry, and they want someone to pay. When shown mug shots or a lineup, they tend to pick someone, naively believing that if it is the wrong person the police investigation will clear the person.

Witnesses to crimes who are not themselves victims want to be helpful to the police. Consequently, they also tend to deliver up the innocent to justice.

And then there is the purchased “witness” testimony that prosecutors pay for with money and dropped charges in order to close a case. A favorite trick is to put a “snitch” in the cell with a defendant. The snitch then comes forward and reports that the defendant confessed.

Law and order conservatives think that the only miscarriages of justice are effected by liberal judges and liberal parole boards who can’t wait to release dangerous criminals to prey on the public.

The absurd idea that the justice system doesn’t make mistakes about those it convicts, except when they are let off by liberals, has made it impossible for innocent people wrongfully convicted to be paroled.

To be paroled, a person must admit to his crime and go through rehabilitation. Of course, only the guilty admit their crimes, and so only the guilty qualify for parole. Innocent people tend to maintain their innocence.

Full Story

Prison Torture in Afghanistan

Torture, abuse still rife in Afghan prisons, U.S. human rights report says

Torture and abuse remains rife in Afghan prisons, woman and children detainees are often raped, and the International Red Cross was prevented from visiting some prisons, the U.S. state Department reported today.

In its annual compendium of human rights in countries round the world, the U.S. report says:

Afghanistan’s “human rights problems included extrajudicial killings; torture; poor prison conditions; official impunity; prolonged pretrial detention; restrictions on freedom of the press; restrictions on freedom of religion; violence and societal discrimination against women; restrictions on religious conversions; abuses against minorities; sexual abuse of children; trafficking in persons; abuse of worker rights; and child labor.”

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A similar annual Canadian report prepared by the Foreign Affairs department is heavily censored to obliterate all references to torture and abuse of detainees and the worst abuses in prisons. The U.S reports are public and posted on the Internet unexpurgated. The Canadian ones are only available under the Access to Information Act and then only heavily redacted.

“Security forces continued to use excessive force, including beating and torturing civilians,” the U.S. report says.

“Torture and abuse included pulling out fingernails and toenails, burning with hot oil, beatings, sexual humiliation, and sodomy.”

It also cited the UN Secretary-General’s report from last year that found “detainees continued to complain of torture by law enforcement officials.”

Canada’s policy is to turn those captured in battle over to the Afghan security forces, notably the National Security Directorate – Afghanistan’s intelligence agency and state police. Although this year’s U.S. report didn’t explicitly accuse the NDS to torture, it did say “ NDS agents detained numerous journalists for expressing views critical of government officials.”

In Canada, right groups are seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court in a case where they want a ban transferring detainees to Afghan authorities. The groups contend Canada’s policy flouts the Geneva Convention, which outlaws knowingly transferring prisoners to torture, abuse or inhumane conditions.

The U.S. report says “prison conditions remained poor. Most were decrepit, severely overcrowded, unsanitary, and fell well short of international standards.”