Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 14 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/30/15

Pope Francis and the Pain of Prisoners

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   2 comments
Message John Kiriakou
Become a Fan
  (41 fans)

Reprinted from Other Words

The pontiff had compassionate words for the incarcerated, but I wish he'd said something to their guards, too.

During his historic U.S. visit, Pope Francis made headlines for speaking truth to power at the United Nations and the Capitol.

But the "people's pope" also addressed the powerless. Everywhere he went, he called on Americans to treat our undocumented immigrants better. In Washington, he dined with the homeless. In Philadelphia, he went out of his way to meet with survivors of clergy sex abuse and visit incarcerated people.

Francis spoke eloquently with prisoners at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility about family, forgiveness, and second chances. "It is a difficult time, one full of struggles," he acknowledged about their time behind bars. "I know it is a painful time not only for you, but also for your families and for all of society."

He's got that right. I only wish he'd stayed longer to give the guards a "come to Jesus" talk of their own.

Prisons have a well-earned reputation for being violent places. And they are.

Less well known, though, is how much of that violence is the result of crooked prison guards. Just a day after the pope's prison visit, The New York Times had a front-page article covering exactly that.

The Times report opened with a horrifying account from a young prisoner at the medium-security Ulster Correctional Facility in upstate New York.

Ramon Fabian, who even now is just 21, had never been incarcerated before he was locked up on a drug charge. He'd reportedly been speaking softly to another inmate during "count time," when guards count all the prisoners to make sure nobody has escaped. A guard shouted at him to quiet down.

But that wasn't the end of it.

After the count, the guard whisked Fabian away from the security cameras, forced him to assume a prone position against a wall, and kicked him in the groin so hard that the prisoner had to undergo surgery to remove part of his testicle.

The guard was eventually charged with assault, but even now he's still on the job. It turns out that it's almost impossible to fire violent prison guards, thanks to union rules and a cozy relationship between guards and investigators.

I saw this with my own eyes. After I blew the whistle on the CIA's torture program, I spent 23 months at the Federal Correctional Institution at Loretto, Pennsylvania.

One guard was arrested in front of me for (allegedly) beating his wife to a bloody pulp. He was charged with a misdemeanor but allowed to keep his job. He served no jail time, all the while taking out his fury on prisoners who couldn't fight back.

Another guard was caught forcing prisoners to perform sex acts on him in exchange for allowing them to steal food, which they'd later sell to other prisoners. There was no punishment. He was allowed to retire quietly.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Valuable 2   Must Read 1   Well Said 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

John Kiriakou Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

John Kiriakou spent 14 years at the CIA and two years in a federal prison for blowing the whistle on the agency's use of torture. He served on John Kerry's Senate Foreign Relations Committee for two years as senior investigator into the Middle (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Forcing the Innocent to Plead Guilty, an American Disgrace

Brennan and Clapper Should Not Escape Prosecution

An Incompetent FBI Dropped the Ball on Syed Farook

If Hillary Clinton Gets a Pass on Espionage From President Obama, So Should Whistleblowers

Time for Trump To Do the Right Thing on Immigration

The US Postal Service Is Spying On Us

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend