If a society is measured by the treatment of its prisoners, we are in deeper trouble in New Orleans than we realize. The biggest prison crisis since Attica is now unfolding in the devastated city, with inmates jammed into inadequate facilities, often abused and unrepresented by attorneys or advocates.
The lives and deaths of two prisoners intersected this week--Stanley
Tookie Williams and Richard Williams, flawed men whose political
perspectives and pursuit of personal redemption were inspired by
a radical social consciousness.
Americans wondered how Army Specialist Charles Graner could torture
detainees in the gruesome Abu Ghraib scandal. In war, people do things
that would otherwise be unthinkable. But this former corrections
officer with a record of spousal abuse has always been at war.
A showdown looms in Congress this week over two competing measures
involving bedrock human and legal rights: John McCain's legislation to
ban all forms of torture and Lindsey Graham's proposal to strip federal courts of the power to hear habeas corpus
appeals by terror suspects.