14 May 2004

Prison Abuse

So, several years ago, in another incarnation, I was a political worker.  That is, I worked as a legislative aide in the California State Senate
I carried bills for my boss on all sorts of topics.  I also took
some public policy classes via Cal State Sacramento, and one of the
assignments was to write a case study of a California public policy
issue.  I focused upon a bill that would have allowed journalists
some access to prisoners in the state system, but which came at least
partially in response to documented abuse allegations like the ones we
are seeing in Abu Ghraib right now.

You can find my case study here (sb434case).  Please be aware that this case appeared in substantially different form in a book published by IGS Press, and they hold the copyright to that version.

When we get over the outrage of what happened to the prisoners at Abu
Ghraib (and unlike the massively blind James Inhofe, Republican senator
from Oklahoma, we must be outraged, not outraged that people are
getting outraged over the foul treatment of “bad guys”), we will have
to begin addressing the oversight of militarily run prisons, especially
in occupied territories.  This is too important to leave just to
the executive branch of the government, as we’ve done so far. 
Congress and the courts must be involved.  The system is only
designed to work if the whole system is involved; if we cut off pieces
of the system, like the judiciary and the legislature, from their
necessary oversight activities, we risk the creation of a republican
empire, such as Rome enjoyed in the days of the early Caesars.

So take my case as a thought-provocation piece, and I will stew more on
the parallels between the late Roman republic/early Roman empire and
modern America.

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