We must protect human rights of prisoners

Printed in the Herald-Times, September 29, 2019

To the Editor:

The death of Jeffrey Epstein has led to innumerable conspiracy theory posts on social media, with many arguing that it is not plausible that he killed himself. It is actually not nearly as implausible as people would like to think. This is one more example of a broader national scandal. The way we treat people in our prisons and jails is abominable.

There have been other high-profile people in jail who should have been watched more closely but managed to kill themselves anyway. Sandra Bland became a rallying cry for Black lives Matter, and former professional wrestler Brian Lawler hung himself. Another example of negligence is Freddie Gray, who suffered a broken neck because he was not secured properly.

Prisoners are violently raped in our prisons, including people who were later exonerated. Bernard Baran was raped 30 times before he was cleared, and Christopher Clugston was gang raped and infected with AIDS before he was pardoned.

We have a moral obligation to protect the lives of those under the supervision of the state – even the worst criminals. We must be better. Whatever resources are needed to protect human rights must be allocated, even if it means deep spending cuts elsewhere.