Prisoner Abuse in Iraq

Prisoner Abuse in Iraq - Prisoner Abuse: Abu Ghraib and the...

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Prisoner Abuse: Abu Ghraib and the Stanford Prison Experiment What happens when ordinary people are given absolute power over other individuals? This is a question that could be answered by Philip Zimbardo after his 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, and an idea that can account for the horrible accounts of violence and abuse that pervaded the Abu Ghraib prison in 2003. The horrors that occurred during both of these events share similar characteristics. They cast a powerful image which proves that evil systems corrupt good people, and that prison environments in general enable violence. James Gilligan, M.D., is a psychiatrist who has worked with intractably violent criminals, after succeeding in discovering their motives; he has identified common causes of violent behavior. Gilligan’s book, Violence explores violence in general. His theories shame the prison system for contributing to inmates’ violent behavior. Conventional methods of dealing with prisoners are increasing degrees of punishment, such as physical blows and verbal abuse, solitary confinement, longer sentences, and capital punishment. However this in turn increases their feelings of shame, further dehumanizing them and in turn eventually making them even more violent. They either come to believe that through violence they can achieve redemption or that their soul is so dead that nothing else matters- they reach a point where they cannot feel any emotion. Even prisoners who were originally jailed for a nonviolent offense (such as burglary), leave the “hell” with a distorted vision of life after they are emasculated and shamed to the point of instability. (Prisons are constructed to resemble the image of hell.) (Gilligan [31-33]) The following quote comes from a prisoner from an Ohio penitentiary after being in solitary
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confinement for an inhumane length of time, "I was recently released from solitary confinement after being held therein for thirty-seven months. The silence system was imposed upon me and if I even whispered to the man in the next cell resulted in being beaten by guards, sprayed with chemical mace,
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Prisoner Abuse in Iraq - Prisoner Abuse: Abu Ghraib and the...

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