Monday, 19 July 2010

Foreskins and dreadlocks - Prison Security as an Excuse for Abuse

Strip searches are routine in penal institutions and are justified by arguments about prison safety. Reading prisoners accounts they perceive the process as being more about power and humiliation.  One regular requirement, particularly targeted at male children is to require the foreskin to be rolled back in front of the guards to check if anything is hidden there. For those who want to check this out I suggest you carry out a practical experiment to establish just what you can hide in a foreskin without it being visible. [Those of you who don not have a foreskin should find a friend with one to jointly conduct this experiment.] 

From my experiments I have concluded it is impossible to hide a gun or a mobile phone. It is also impossible to hide any significant amounts of drugs.  Given the humiliation experienced by those subjected to this procedure any security gain is obvioulsly insignificant. In particular its requirement for children is clearly child abuse.

A recent report by the Associated Press highlights another example of how prison security is used an excuse for abuse. They report how at least 48 prisoners in Virginia are kept in solitory confinement solely on the basis that they refuse to co-operate with security policy on hair and beard length.  The prisoners in segregation include ten Rastafarians who have been held there for over ten years. Rastafararians objection to hair cutting is not about fashion but a religious belief.  Although details of the other prisoners is not available most are likely to be from other faiths who share similiar beliefs (e.g Sikhs).  The justification is security. Long hair could be used to hide guns and other items. The impact of imposing "security" regulations that ignore prisoners faiths is that either the prisoner does something that goes against their faith or they are severely punished.  In this case ten Rastafarians have been subjected to over a decade solitary confinement for sticking to their beliefs.  All in the name of "security".

1 comment:

  1. Find this very hard to believe. There is so much going on in prisons that the average person knows nothing about. This "hair"thing is definitely a form of punishment.