Eric Schlosser on the United States Prison System
We’ve covered in depth on Law and Disorder the US-run prison industry abroad, from Guantanamo Bay prison, Cuba, Bagram prison in Afghanistan and Abu Ghraib in Iraq. These are the exports of one of the most highly profitable businesses in the United States. The prison industrial complex in this country has reached record breaking occupancy. Nearly 2.1 million Americans are behind bars, the majority of them nonviolent offenders, they’re usually poor, many have substance abuse problems and many have are mentally ill. This according to exhaustive research by Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser who spoke at Bluestockings Bookstore in New York about his compendium on the American Prison system.
Law and Disorder caught up with Eric during this talk and we listen to the second part of his one-hour speech. In his talk he warns our society of the perils of a profit driven penal system and backs his research with well-documented facts and staggering statistics.
Muhammad Salah Case – Update
Hosts talk with Salah’s attorney Michael Deutsch on the latest in the case involving a Palestinian businessman accused of funding Hamas in 1993. His defense argues he was tortured and his confessions coerced.
The government also called to the witness stand former New York Times reporter Judith Miller. Law and Disorder hosts fill in the background of this reporter who was fired from the NY Times for writing numerous stories backing the Bush administration’s war campaign chant, “weapons of mass destruction.” Miller was allowed to witness Israeli agents interviewing Salah in 1993. She testified a month ago that Salah seemed comfortable and that he boasted about Hamas operations.
Guest – Michael Deutsch, Muhammad Salah’s attorney with the People’s Law Office in Chicago.
The Mishandled Lethal Injection of Florida death row inmate Angel Nieves Diaz
Angel Diaz was executed by lethal injection for killing a Miami topless bar manager 27 years ago. He was given a rare second does of deadly chemicals as he took more than twice the usual time to succumb. Needles that were supposed to inject drugs in the 55 year old man’s veins were instead pushed through the blood vessels and into the surrounding soft tissue.
The error in Diaz’s execution led Florida Governor Jeb Bush to suspend all executions. Bush still defends the death penalty itself and rejects calls for its abolition. In a separate case, a federal judge extended a moratorium on executions in California, declaring that its method of legal injection violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Those are just the latest challenges to lethal injection, which is the preferred method in 37 states. Missouri’s injection method, similar to California’s was declared unconstitutional last month by a federal judge.
Guest – Kristin Houle with the Amnesty International Program to Abolish the Death Penalty
Lynch Mobs and the Killing State
Lynchings. That word alone is at the root of racism in the United States. Those who may regard lynching as a shameful part of the past need only read the book From Lynch Mobs to the Killing State, edited by Austin Sarat and Charles Ogletree, to realize that state-sanctioned executions are sanitized forms of lynching justified by society.
Professors Charles Ogletree and Austin Sarat have assembled a lucid and intelligent work in which essays from sociologists, historians, criminologists and lawyers weave together a social history that starkly reveals how this country’s death penalty is rooted in lynchings.
Racism informs both kinds of killings. The 985 lives lost to official lynchings in the United States since the practice resumed in 1976 symbolize according to one of the book’s contributors, a much broader and enduring culture of American apartheid.
Guest – Austin Sarat, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst College. His books include Mercy on Trial: What it Means to Stop an Execution.