The dignity of prisoners

From this quite fascinating piece about new architecture concepts for prisons (!): Written on a prison wall in this new compound in Austria, a line from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights reminds guards and inmates alike that

All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.

Could we please write that on every American prison wall?

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3 thoughts on “The dignity of prisoners

  1. A:

    The ICCP is laudable in its goals, idealistic, and really an embodiment of “the modern” judicial systems in my view. Obviously, the document doesn’t mean squat to many countries primarily in the third world.

    I don’t know what the demands are on the Austrian penal system but the model is awesome if it was possible to build in every jurisdiction. some of California’s facilities are evolving into the pod design, but it is more for security reasons than comfort.

    But compared to Austria, California has a huge demand and money (or the lack thereof) is everything. In Austria 8300 adults are imprisoned in 28 facilities. In California, there are 33 adult prisons, 13 adult community correctional facilities, and eight juvenile facilities in California that house more than 165,000 adult offenders and nearly 3,200 juvenile offenders. (part of this is quoted from Wikipedia).

    In California, with the ongoing budget problems, most agree that we have many non-violent criminals who should probably not be incarcerated, little or no money to accommodate our ever-growing prison population of those who should be incarcerated and major issues surrounding the level of health care that is being provided or not provided to prisoners. The three strikes law didn’t help things in terms of the numbers of inmates.

    Yes, we can write that on the walls, along with the other prison graffiti and of course, there needs to be strict discipline for prison guards who exceed the bounds of decency that we would all expect in our prisons. On the other hand, I don’t know what it would be like guarding Nortenos, Suerenos, White Supremacist, Crips, Bloods, and the like. I don’t picture those guys relaxing in their cells reading Voltaire and thanking the guards for the breakfast.

    Your blog’s lookin’ good. It’s good to be back from a little hiatus.


    • Good analysis, Steve.

      As you can see from my piece this week, I have quite an interest in this issue. I might have a sort of series (in The Economist, I mean) later in the year on the prison situation. Let me know if ever you come across good experts or research.

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