Wednesday, September 30, 2015

prison should be our last resort and this is one reason why

Prison offers an opportunity for some to practice their sadistic tendencies on the defenseless, as we see in this story from The Marshall Project about the New York prison system.
... the guard escorted him past a set of double doors out of view of other inmates and the prison’s electronic surveillance cameras. Fabian said the officer, Michael Bukowski, a seven-year veteran, had then ordered him to face the wall and brace himself in the “pat-frisk” position, arms outstretched and legs spread. As he did so, Fabian recalled, he looked down and saw the toe of a boot swinging up between his legs. 
He saw a flash of light, felt a piercing pain and collapsed. “He told me to get up, but all I could do was crawl back to my cube,” Fabian, who is now 21, told investigators later. He lay on the floor in his cubicle in the prison’s dormitory, groaning and crying, for almost an hour before hobbling to lunch. In the mess hall, a sergeant sent him to the prison’s medical unit. He was soon loaded into a van and driven 80 miles north to a hospital in Albany. Doctors there performed emergency surgery, removing part of his right testicle.
 If you are thinking that surely that guard was fired, you are wrong.
More than a year later, however, Bukowski is still a state employee. His disciplinary case remains unresolved, although he faces a criminal charge of assault. His case, described in court documents and interviews, offers a stark example of the intricate protections that shield New York’s 20,000 corrections officers, even when there is compelling evidence of abuse. 
Since 2010, the state has sought to fire 30 prison guards accused of abusing inmates through a convoluted arbitration process that is required under the union contract. Officials have prevailed only eight times, according to records of disciplinary cases released under state Freedom of Information Law requests. Those records show that most abuse allegations never reach the arbitration level: Another 80 cases brought against corrections officers, sergeants and lieutenants since 2010 were settled directly with their unions for penalties other than dismissal, such as suspension.
Power in the hands of the unfit should be taken away as quickly as possible but that is not what happens when prison guards misuse power over inmates. The system is set up to keep the unfit employed in the very position for which they are least suited, a position that lets them do real damage to real people.

This is why we ought to use prisons only as a last resort.

Building more prisons and incarcerating more people means we have more corrections officers in a position where they can abuse other human beings. In a system where those who abuse their authority are rarely fired, we cannot be surprised when COs go bad.

If you can stomach it, read the whole thing.

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