Thursday, December 28, 2006
Prisons are hellish places, to be sure. Regimes of terror, no doubt. If our mainstream liberal newspaper is advocating the abolition of such institutions, I am all ears. But it is not. It is engaged in mud-throwing. The Venezuelan Prisons Observatory, a group usually cited by the State Department, but which has been in operation since 1994, is source for some serious criticisms of Venezuelan prisons. There are some interesting anecdotes and statistics, and I wouldn't be dismissive of every single claim made.
However, the framing of the story is simply rhubarb. There is no 'regime' of terror. Among South American states, Venezuela has the lowest prison population rate. In fact, it is lower than all American states, including the US and Canada, and is lower than most European countries including the United Kingdom. Unsurprisingly, the US has the largest rate of prisoners in the world. 30% of black males will spend some time in prison in America. The US tortures its own prisoners as a matter of policy, not to mention those it imprisons illegally, wherever in the world they have been kidnapped. That's a global "regime of terror" that The Guardian devoutly wishes it could support, if only a Democrat were in charge.