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Recent polls bring us the depressing news that the majority of Americans are a-ok with Cheney’s torture program even though they admit that it is torture and not just “enhanced interrogation.”

Naturally, there is a lot of partisanship going on here, as many conservatives would defend a Republican administration to the death rather than admit some libtard was right. But either way, a lot of Americans are just fine with America committing planned and sanctioned atrocities that we did not countenance even with Nazi prisoners during WWII.

Slate writer Jamelle Bouie compares this to America’s cruel and unusual prison system that we also seem fine with, which is far worse than not just any other First World country, but also worse than Second World countries not exactly known for their kind and loving attitudes — Russia and China. And you know things are bad when even some conservatives acknowledge something is very wrong. (The writer of the second link there spent time himself in the Big House for white-collar crimes — if a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged, then a conservative prison reformer is a conservative who got locked up with the mugger.)

Basically, most Americans are ok with flagrant human rights violations as long as they’re happening to someone else.

The thing is, of course, this cruelty doesn’t actually work. Not just the utility of torture, which produces inconsistent information at best. But also our current system of human rights violations committed by the prison-industrial complex against relatively petty criminals such as small-time drug dealers or thieves.

I mean, sure, even I am ok with locking up murderers and serial rapists into the deepest darkest dungeons the state of Texas has to offer and throwing away the key. But I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about the massive numbers of prisoners locked up for relatively humble offenses and who can be reformed, rather than being housed for decades in the same prisons as the aforementioned murderers and serial rapists. You don’t have to watch Oz to know that this is the surest method to turn petty criminals into worse criminals. And that’s if the guards don’t get you first. The idea of our prisons as “rehabilitation centers” is a cruel joke.

And then there’s the racial angle. If a black man and a white man commit the exact same offense in the exact same jurisdiction, we can all probably guess which one will get locked up and which one will get probation. How is that justice?

There is a better way to do things that does not involve coddling terrorists or criminals. Multiple amendments of the Bill of Rights specifically address the treatment of the accused and the guilty to ensure justice is served, because the cruelty of those like Cheney and those who run our prisons is by definition injustice. Maybe it’s time that we start acknowledging the Founders may have had a point.

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