When President Barack Obama goes to Oklahoma Thursday and enters the medium-security federal prison FCI-El Reno he will be entering the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Prisons, part of the Justice Department, a bureaucratic fiefdom that is nearly as sprawling as the Department of Defense and in many ways as secret and unaccountable to the public and lawmakers as the CIA or the NSA.
Amy Goodman addresses this issue today on Democracy Now. One of her guests was incarcerated for 17 years and part of that long-time spent in Solitary. In any case, he's now part of a group active in prison reform and he was invited to Germany. The German people, for the most part, went into an enlightened phase of self-reflection as a result of losing W.W II. This individual was amazed at the way the German prison system works to retain each inmate's ties to family and community, helps him or her to gain job skills; and shows compassion rather than punishment, alone.
It should go down as one of the greatest lies and conceits that U.S. leadership constantly lectures the world on the so-called values and behaviors of a land of liberty when it houses the most prisoners in the entire world. Just ridiculous and about as accurate as an obese person giving talks on diet.
One might feel different if we are victims of criminals. We may want revenge. But when we see that those criminals were also victims of criminals, things get nebulous. Two wrongs don't make a right.
I'm sure that most of the developed world is ahead of the United States when it comes to prison reform.
When the President really goes to prison...it will not be televised.