The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

U.S. Prison Conditions Far Worse Than Guantanamo’s

By refusing to allow Guantanamo detainees to be transferred anywhere in the United States, including its supermax prisons, those representatives in Congress

Amandeep Coleman
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Oct 05, 2009

By refusing to allow Guantanamo detainees to be transferred anywhere in the United States, including its supermax prisons, those representatives in Congress eagerly fighting to keep the prison in Cuba open may unintentionally be easing the lives of terror suspects.

Last Thursday, the House of Representatives voted 258-163 to refuse to allow detainees now held at the Guantanamo Bay prison to enter the United States. Even a supermax prison facility isn’t safe enough to contain them, they decided, in a nonbinding resolution.

But Peter Finn at the Washington Post noted on Sunday that conditions at the United States’ most secure federal prisons are actually far more draconian than they are at Guantanamo Bay.

“For up to four hours a day, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, can sit outside in the Caribbean sun and chat through a chain-link fence with the detainee in the neighboring exercise yard at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,” writes Finn. By contrast, terror suspects in U.S. prisons are usually kept in complete isolation, allowed only one hour a day outside, and never get to speak to anyone.

The federal supermax prison in Florence, Colorado is home to such notorious convicted terrorists as 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef; Teodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber; and Terry Nichols, convicted of the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City.

The conditions at Florence are supposedly so bad that terror suspects in Britain appealed to the European Court of Human Rights to prevent their extradition to the United States, arguing that the prison conditions constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. In fact, studies have found that such extreme isolation can cause or exacerbate mental illness.

At Gitmo, meanwhile, KSM gets to work out on the gym’s elliptical machines and stationery bikes, choose his own movies to watch in the media room, read newspapers and books, and play handheld electronic games, reports Finn.

The Obama administration hasn’t yet revealed how it intends to close the Guantanamo prison, and what it plans to do with the 220 or so detainees that remain there.

Amandeep Coleman | Amandeep had never known a moment when she wasn't reading or making up stories, having been born into a family of readers. She took out a pencil and notebook during the now-famous blizzard and started writing down one of those stories. It was there that I began my professional life. Her first book was written after several rejections and manuscripts. She is a member of many writers' organizations and has received several accolades from her peers and the publishing industry. The New Yorker recently dubbed her "America's favorite novelist".


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