The Journal of History     Fall 2004    TABLE OF CONTENTS

Did You Know?
Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, & Afghanistan
Torture in 2004

According to a report leaked to the New York Times, the Swiss-based International Red Cross has accused the Bush administration for a second time of employing systematic, medically supervised torture against suspects being held at Guantanamo Bay, and at U.S.-run prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to the report's allegations, many tortures perfected by the Cheka (Soviet secret police) -- notably beating, freezing, sensory disorientation, and sleep deprivation, are now routinely being used by U.S. interrogators.

The Pentagon and CIA gulags in Cuba, Iraq, and Afghanistan have become a sort of Enron-style, off-the-books operation, immune from American law or Congressional oversight.

Suspects reportedly disappear into a black hole, recalling Latin America's torture camps and "disappearings" of the 1970s and '80s, or the Arab world's sinister secret police prisons.

Provided by Eric Margolis from his article in the Toronto Sun dated December 5, 2004


Prison conditions

Anyone with a loved one incarcerated has not been able to even put money on their books for commissary because the American economy is so bad. Prisoners' letters beg for money to be able to eat because the food inside their prison is so bad and not nearly enough. They have cut them back again on feeding them.

One inmate in Texas lost 40 pounds in one month.


More than half of the states in the United States are collecting some sort of fees in their prisons according to the American Correctional Association. More and more state and local governments are billing prisoners for their room and board in an attempt to cover rising prison costs. Those in power have once again decided to further punish those who have little power and force individuals to pay in more ways than one, for "problems" often caused by oppression that our society itself has created.

In addition to the outragous telephone rates, there are many examples around the country of this trend. For example, in Macomb County, Michigan, which is 25 miles north of Detroit, the sheriff's department has collected $1.5 million in what are being called "pay to stay" fees; prisoners are billed for room and board on a sliding fee scale of $8 to $56 per day depending upon "ability to pay." Fees are not just being charged for room and board, but also for processing and co-payments on medical treatment.

In New Jersey, the legislature is considering a proposal to allow the state to collect up to $24,000 per year, the full cost of a year in prison. In Indianapolis the city council is debating a proposal to collect $30 per day from prisoners to "recoup the cost of housing."

The jail in Lexington, Kentucky and surrounding Fayette County charges a $20 booking and administrative fee.

Florida has passed a state statute (944.516[1][h] 2004, see HB 1875 Section 21) that will charge all prisoners a $4 "administrative processing fee" each month. If there are not sufficient funds in the account charged, administrators will place a hold for the unpaid balance. In most cases, if these fees are not collected while people are imprisoned, the court will collect these unpaid bills by seizing assets such as cars. In some instances those released are placed back in prison. And, if private and governmental organizations have not been making enough money off of prisoners already, states are trying to get more.

The Utah state prison, as of September 1, 2004 ordered that all reading books must be purchased through commisary. In Oklahoma, also, there have been many reports of the DOC (Department of Corrections) making money off of prisoners in various ways. One example is the DOC's "Mandatory Savings" program.

In 2002, a federal court forced a sheriff in Cincinnati, Ohio to refund more than $1 in room fees from people who had been detained in jail but not convicted. Cases such as these that have been won on the basis of fees being a violation of due process. Since 1973, a total of 116 people on death row, 115 men and one woman, have been totally exonerated. Moreover, the pace of exoneration has been speeding up. Sixteen people have been totally exonerated in the last 20 months [this information was written in October 2004]. These people spent an average of nine years each in prison before their release. Altogether they have a total of 1,042 years of wrongful incarceration.

The states with the highest number of exonerations are Florida with 21, and Illinois with 18. Louisiana has eight and Arizona, Oklahoma, and Texas have seven each. Of these states, only Illinois has taken decisive action to deal with the situation. It appointed a commission that conducted a thorough investigation and commuted the vast majority of the sentences of all the people on death row to life without the possibility of parole.

Contrary to popular opinion, only 14 of the 116 exonerated were based on DNA evidence. Most murder scenes do not produce biological material from the killer that can be subjected to DNA analysis. Provided by an innocent Death Row inmate who is in Oklahoma.


Many prisoners are turning up sick all of a sudden who, when they entered prison, were healthy. They test every prisoner when they initially enter prison so know that they are healthy. Illnesses range from stomach cancer, AIDS, Hepatitis C, others.

Provided by Norman Allen, #95A5609 in New York on November 15, 2004.


The Journal of History - Fall 2004 Copyright © 2004 by News Source, Inc.