Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Geoghan: capital punishment by the back door

Inquiry Lists Errors in Killing of Pedophile Priest in Prison
The death of John J. Geoghan, the defrocked pedophile priest who was killed in his prison cell last summer, was largely a result of a series of mistakes and failures by the state prison system to treat him fairly and responsibly and to protect him in jail ...

The published report, behind euphemisms and gentle words, paints a picture right out of The Shawshank Redemption. Geoghan was murdered by his guards and their supervisors at two prisons; the prisoner who did the dirty work was basically a tool.

The explosive report is still pending -- a review of the entire Massachusetts prison system. I think most people are confident that the Geoghan case will turn out to be fairly typical.

If we were to repeat the same study in every state in American, I suspect they'd come to the same conclusion. No, I haven't spend time behind bars, though 20 years ago I was a moonlighting medical resident at a couple of prisons. I base my prediction on a culture which has swung towards vengeance and "Evangelical Sharia" over the past two decades. In that context, with continued cutbacks in legal resources for the indigent (includes almost all prisoners), institutional abuse is as inevitable as sunrise.

I hope the authors of the system report quote a bit of Dickens in their introduction.

No comments: