Prisons Corruption News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on prisons corruption
Jason Brannigan's eyes widened as he relived the day he says prison guards pepper-sprayed his face at point-blank range, then pulled him through the cellblock naked, his hands and feet shackled. "I can't breathe! I can't breathe!" Brannigan recalled gasping in pain and humiliation during the March 2007 incident. "They're walking me on the chain and it felt just like ďż˝ slaves again," said the African American inmate, interviewed at the Sacramento County jail. "Like I just stepped off an auction block." Brannigan, 33, said the incident occurred in the behavior modification unit at High Desert State Prison in Susanville, where he was serving time for armed assault. He is one of more than 1,500 inmates who have passed through such units in six California prisons. A Bee investigation into the behavior units, including signed affidavits, conversations and correspondence with 18 inmates, has uncovered evidence of racism and cruelty at the High Desert facility. Inmates described hours-long strip-searches in a snow-covered exercise yard. They said correctional officers tried to provoke attacks between inmates, spread human excrement on cell doors and roughed up those who peacefully resisted mistreatment. Many of their claims were backed by legal and administrative filings, and signed affidavits, which together depicted an environment of brutality, corruption and fear.
The CIA built one of its secret European prisons inside an exclusive riding academy outside Vilnius, Lithuania, a current Lithuanian government official and a former U.S. intelligence official [said]. Where affluent Lithuanians once rode show horses and sipped coffee at a café, the CIA installed a concrete structure where it could use harsh tactics to interrogate up to eight suspected al-Qaeda terrorists at a time. Lithuanian officials provided ABC News with the documents of what they called a CIA front company, Elite LLC, which purchased the property and built the "black site" in 2004. Lithuania agreed to allow the CIA prison after President George W. Bush visited the country in 2002 and pledged support for Lithuania's efforts to join NATO. "The new members of NATO were so grateful for the U.S. role in getting them into that organization that they would do anything the U.S. asked for during that period," said former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke. "They were eager to please and eager to be cooperative on security and on intelligence matters." Lithuania was one of three eastern European countries, along with Poland and Romania, where the CIA secretly interrogated suspected high-value al-Qaeda terrorists, but until now the precise site had not been confirmed.
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A man who filmed a New York City police officer use a choke hold on a suspect who later died has been arrested on weapons charges, law enforcement officials said on [August 3]. Ramsey Orta, 22, and a 17-year-old female were spotted on [August 2] outside a known drug location on Staten Island by narcotics officers who saw Orta put a handgun in his companion's waistband, the New York Police Department said. Orta, who has a previous criminal conviction, faces two charges of criminal possession of a weapon. At some point during his arrest, Orta told officers, "You're just mad because I filmed your boy," an NYPD spokeswoman said. The comment was apparently in reference to the July 17 cellphone video shot by Orta during the arrest of Eric Garner, who was placed in a choke hold by a police officer while being detained for peddling illegal cigarettes. Garner later died, and the New York City medical examiner ruled the his death a homicide. Footage of the incident circulated widely on the Internet, triggering outrage and raising questions about police tactics and use of force. The choke hold is banned by the NYPD, which says it is investigating why the maneuver was used.
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The Bush administration has told a federal judge that terrorism suspects held in secret CIA prisons should not be allowed to reveal details of the "alternative interrogation methods" that their captors used to get them to talk. The government says in new court filings that those interrogation methods are now among the nation's most sensitive national security secrets and that their release -- even to the detainees' own attorneys -- "could reasonably be expected to cause extremely grave damage." The battle over legal rights for terrorism suspects detained for years in CIA prisons centers on Majid Khan, a 26-year-old former Catonsville resident who was one of 14 high-value detainees transferred in September from the "black" sites to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The government, in trying to block lawyers' access to the 14 detainees, effectively asserts that the detainees' experiences are a secret that should never be shared with the public. An attorney for Khan's family, responded in a court document yesterday "the executive is attempting to misuse its classification authority...to conceal illegal or embarrassing executive conduct." Khan's family did not learn of his whereabouts until Bush announced his transfer in September, more than three years after he was seized. Joseph Margulies, a Northwestern University law professor who has represented several detainees at Guantanamo, said the prisoners "can't even say what our government did to these guys to elicit the statements that are the basis for them being held. This is 'Alice in Wonderland.'"
Note: Interesting that not only the government documents, but even this article avoids mentioning the word torture, when that is clearly what this is all about.
The federal prison population has dropped in the last year by roughly 4,800, the first time in several decades that the inmate count has gone down. In a speech Tuesday in New York City, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department expects to end the current budget year next week with a prison population of roughly 215,000 inmates. It would be the first time since 1980 that the federal prison population has declined during the course of a fiscal year. The crime rate has dropped along with the prison population, Holder said, proving that “longer-than-necessary prison terms” don’t improve public safety. “In fact, the opposite is often true,” he said. The Bureau of Prisons accounts for roughly one-third of the Justice Department budget, and the prison population has exploded in the last three decades as a result of “well-intentioned policies designed to be 'tough’ on criminals,” Holder said. In August 2013, for instance, he announced a major shift in sentencing policy, instructing federal prosecutors to stop charging many nonviolent drug defendants with offenses that carry mandatory minimum sentences. More recently, the Justice Department has encouraged a broader swath of the prison population to apply for clemency, and has supported reductions in sentencing guideline ranges for drug criminals that could apply to tens of thousands of inmates. “We know that over-incarceration crushes opportunity. We know it prevents people, and entire communities, from getting on the right track,” Holder said. Holder also said that there should be new ways for the government to measure success of its criminal justice policies beyond how many people are prosecuted and sent to prison.
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President Bush on Wednesday acknowledged previously secret CIA prisons around the world. The announcement from Bush was the first time the administration had acknowledged the existence of CIA prisons, which have been a source of friction between Washington and some allies in Europe. European Union lawmakers said the CIA was conducting clandestine flights in Europe to take terror suspects to countries where they could face torture.
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