Thursday, February 16, 2006

Life in Prison? No Better than the Death Penalty, As It Amounts to Euthanasia

While France and the world rail about the injustices of the American penal system as well as the death penalty (in fact, American society in general), and prepare to go on another Abu Ghraib rampage, they conveniently ignore what are often far worse conditions in their own countries — in any country, indeed, that is not America. Such as the Islamic Republic of Iran (thanks to Tom) or the People's Republic of China (or Japan, for those who claim they are only targeting democracies for the time being). It may be that prisoner suicide is not the death penalty, but somehow, it amounts to the same result.

Various reformers may have convinced themselves, as well as large parts of the population, of how avant-garde their thoughts and deeds (and societies) were. Apparently, they have not convinced all the inmates. For the past month, the usual defense of the abolition of the death penalty in favor of life in prison has been challenged, and not just by anybody, but by lifers themselves who counter that death would actually be the most humane treatment they could get.

I have long held that contrary to what people (like to) believe, no fundamental principles are involved here, only comparisons, and that it was only a matter of time before life sentences were deemed to be inhumane and barbaric.

Now, Marion Van Renterghem ups that ante with an interview of Claude Lucas, the prisoner who wrote the book "Suerte" while in jail and who now castigates society by saying that

abolishing the death penalty to substitute it with real life in jail, that is no better … A life sentence is forsaking a prisoner to a degenerative existence, it's torture, euthanasia … [Real] courage would be to say, no condemnations whatsoever beyond 15 or 20 years
Beyond that, prisons in the land of valeurs républicaines rate unfavorably compared to Spanish prisons, leading Le Monde to call France "the champion in prison inhumanity".