The American prison system’s darkest period in history

Recent lawsuits and Justice Department investigations have uncovered grotesque abuses of mentally ill inmates at state and local prisons.

It has been an extraordinary three weeks , and maybe the darkest period in the history of the American penal system. In four states the systemic abuse and neglect of inmates, and especially mentally ill inmates, has been investigated, chronicled and disclosed in grim detail to the world by lawyers, government investigators and one federal judge. The conclusions are inescapable: In our zeal to dehumanize criminals we have allowed our prisons to become medieval places of unspeakable cruelty so far beyond constitutional norms that they are barely recognizable.



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