Originally broadcast June 27, 2014
Given how inmates are abused in America, perhaps lethal injection isn’t so much cruel and unusual as it is a welcome relief from our prison system.
There’s a terrifying story in today’s Miami Herald detailing treatment of Florida’s psychiatric ward inmates. Yes, hard to believe but Florida does have psychiatrists.
Americans are comforted by leaders who insist this country does not torture. But the ACLU, Amnesty International and the American Council of Churches think otherwise, and are now demanding that President Obama’s Justice Department investigate the death, let’s call it murder, of a 50-year-old mentally ill prisoner named Darren Rainey.
Witnesses inside Florida’s Dade Correctional Institution’s psychiatric ward told the Miami Herald that Darren Rainey, serving a two year sentence for drug possession, he was probably self medicating, was handcuffed for defecating in his cell, dragged to a stall where the shower was turned on and then Rainey was left screaming for several hours underneath a scalding spray of 180-degree water. The next day, Rainey was found with “chunks” of his skin peeled off. After he was taken to the hospital, nurses said his temperature was so high a thermometer could not measure it. He later died. Darren Rainey was a mentally ill black man serving a two-year sentence for narcotics possession.
Today’s Miami Herald story is a tough read with descriptions of floors soaked in urine, littered with human excrement, and prisoners forced to chow down food fortified with insect protein. This is the stuff of Third World nations, not the imperial powerhouse Americans fancy themselves to be as we expend billions overseas promoting our special brand of democracy. If this is what freedom looks like then let’s keep it for ourselves. Shall we?
And it looks like America is doing just that. Calls for military intervention in Iraq notwithstanding, President Obama is winding down much of our overseas adventurism forcing our military industrial complex to discover a new market, which turns out to be us, America.
More and more police departments are being fitted with all that military gear our soldiers no longer need as billions of dollars in military equipment is transferred from the pentagon to local law enforcement. That’s why every city these days has a SWAT team with enough tactical gear, including tanks, to topple a small country.
But SWAT teams look ridiculous busting down doors to serve a traffic summons, even though SWAT teams have been known to perform that civic duty. SWAT teams are all about looking…SWAT. Luckily local SWAT teams in search of a battle worthy of their equipment didn’t have to look much further than America’s war on drugs. The ACLU issued a report this week on “hyper aggressive” policing in America warning that local SWAT teams use all that new military equipment primarily to bust down doors searching for drugs, and rarely, if ever, use that military equipment for what Americans were promised it was to be used for: taking down snipers or freeing a hostage.
You’d think with all these school shootings our police would be less concerned about our children smoking pot and more about their smoking gun. If the police have nothing better to do than stop people from doing drugs maybe we should spend less money fitting them with military gear and more money on our schools, or, better yet, treatment on demand for drug addicts instead of locking them up to be tortured by Florida prison guards.
The war on drugs, like nearly all our wars, is based on a lie. And this week the argument for legalizing marijuana just got a whole lot stronger. According to a new report issued Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control, one in ten working Americans will die from excessive drinking this year. The CDC goes on to call alcohol abuse the fourth leading cause of preventable death. The cost to taxpayers comes out to roughly $223.5 billion a year. Yet our SWAT teams kick down doors looking for pot. I’m not suggesting pot is something people should smoke. I’m just saying it’s safe, and alcohol is not.
Just ask Fox News Anchor Gregg Jarrett who was recently arrested for being drunk inside a Minneapolis Airport, the very same airport Senator Larry Craig got pinched seven years ago for flirting with an undercover cop inside the men’s room. (Don’t our police have anything better to do these days?) Fox News Anchor Gregg Jarrett was drunk, disorderly and so he got a taste of the very police state he’s paid to promote.
When America officially becomes that police state, it will be due in no small measure to the tireless efforts of Fox News who every day works to scare Americans into believing somebody is trying to kill us: Blacks, Muslims, Mexicans, Gays. According to Fox News, everybody is trying to kill us except the people who actually have guns. So when Fox News Anchor Gregg Jarrett was waiting in his holding cell naturally he assumed cops worked with him. He was wrong, police work for the police, and they decided to kick his ass.
Frankly, they were a little rough on the guy even if he is a Fox News anchor. There’s a video of one of the cops kicking Jarrett’s privileged white male ass. Maybe that video will finally kick some sense into Jarrett and his right wing denizens who despise everything about our government except the cops. Because feeling safe also includes feeling safe from our police.