Scott Tibbs

Jail conditions should be a concern to everyone

By Scott Tibbs, November 17, 2021

I am indeed very pleased that Marjorie Taylor-Greene and other Republicans are investigating the conditions of the jail in Washington, D.C. But are these concerns politically motivated, or will this finally lead to real reforms in how we treat prisoners - especially those in jails who have not yet been convicted of a crime? I hope this is the case, but I doubt it will happen - and this is something that needs to happen. The way we treat people in jails and prisons is a moral abomination.

The New York Times has been running a number of stories recently (see here and here and here and here and here) about the horrifying inhumane conditions at the city jail on Rikers Island, a scandal that goers back many years. (See here and here and here.) The floors are covered with urine, feces and vomit. Violence and rape are out of control, and prison guards are protesting the unsafe working conditions. Should there be a congressional investigation of how the Democrats are running the infamous city jail?

In fact, violence and inhumane conditions are a common feature of jails and prisons from coast to coast. I have said this before, but we should not have been shocked or even surprised by the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. If we cannot even be bothered to respect the basic human rights of American citizens, then why would we be expected to treat Muslim terrorists well, especially only two years after the war crimes committed by Muslim terrorists on September 11, 2001?

Unless someone is given life without parole or the death penalty, someone in prison or jail is eventually going to be released back into society. Do you think subjecting them to brutality on a daily basis makes them more or less likely to re-offend, especially if they have mental health issues before going behind bars? Abusing prisoners creates more crime and makes everyone in society less safe. If we are not motivated by basic human decency to protect human rights, then we should be motivated by a desire to protect the law-abiding.

Some Republicans are making a political issue of conditions in the DC jail, but concern over basic human rights cannot be confined to the people arrested for storming the Capitol Building on January 6. That concern needs to be there every single day, and we have let this fester for too long.

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