Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Our Gulag


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

July 29, 2015


                In yesterday’s post, I commented on how fundamentally retributive the confinement of mass killer Anders Breivik shows even a remarkably non-punitive Norwegian penal law system to be.  Today, at, I was reminded that in extreme cases too, the US treatment of prisoners makes the treatment of Anders Breivik seem mild and progressive.  Moreover, our most mistreated prisoners are fleeing victimization, mainly women fleeing with their children to escape Central American violence—violence that results from a history of US economic and military occupation and support—effectively, a product of US colonization.

                I encourage readers today’s interview with an immigration lawyer and a social worker who resigned from a Texas detention camp run by GEO, hired by the Justice Department.  Ironically, the Justice Department, headed by the second person of color in a row, is now given ninety days by a federal judge to come up with a better plan for GEO facilities in Texas than releasing children with their mothers into the community, with the supervision and support of trained social workers.  (Should the court eventually order mothers to wear “ankle bracelets,” Geo already uses and can provide heavy, poorly functioning product made by a company GEO created.)

                The conditions described in today’s broadcast extend to forcefully giving children adult doses of hepatitis vaccine, and constantly separating children mothers…Bottom line, GEO represents the two basic flaws of privatization not only of “detention centers,” but of all privatization of services the government is obliged to provide:  The primary duty of the corporation is to maximize returns to shareholders; and while public records are open to public scrutiny, private records are subject only to subpoena for cause—private corporations are publicly unaccountable.  As GEO’s version of federal detention shows, privatization invites abuse of power, right down to abuse of child prisoners.  Insofar as how we treat our prisoners is a measure of how punitive people are generally, on a global scale, Norwegian political culture ranks low; US political culture is over the top.  Love and peace, hal

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