We love to hear ourselves spouting grandiose ideas. We have prohibitions in the 'Constitution' against "cruel and unusual punishment" but that is unrelated to how treat people over whom we have power.
Our 'correction' system is all about punishment and punishment only.
Last week, the New York Times reported allegations that prison guards systematically tortured inmates at Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York following the high profile escape of two inmates.
More than 60 prisoners filed complaints claiming that they suffered abuse, including beatings, stranglings and death threats. Most significant, however, was the apparent personal involvement of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, in these brutal actions.
Just hours before state prison guards without name tags descended upon the cell block to torture the escapees’ fellow prisoners, Cuomo had visited the prison, asking one inmate, in the presence of the media, why he did not hear the escapees cutting through their prison bars. “[It] must have kept you awake with all that cutting, huh?” before giving him “his best tough-guy stare,” according to the prisoner, and walking off.
Cuomo later told ABC News, “I chatted with a couple of the inmates myself and I said, you must be a very heavy sleeper. They were heard. They had to be heard.”
Within a matter of hours, the inmate Cuomo spoke to was asked by an unnamed guard, “You know what waterboarding is?” before having his head thrust into a plastic bag hanging from a pipe and being beaten for 20 minutes. Another inmate reported being hung by a plastic bag used as a noose until he passed out. (source)
We Americans love to torture people. According to a poll, most of us, 58 percent say the torture of suspected terrorists can be justified “often” or “sometimes.” 'Let's make 'em hurt.'
But a new study authored by health officials with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) shows that racial disparities in jail run far deeper: black and Hispanic inmates are vastly more likely to be punished with solitary confinement than their white counterparts, and less likely to receive diagnoses of mental illness. The study, which is based on the records of 45,000 first-time inmates in the New York City jail system between 2011 and 2013, found that black people were 2.52 times more likely than whites to be put in solitary, where inmates spend 22 to 24 hours a day alone in a cell. Hispanics were 1.65 times more likely to enter solitary. And while blacks and Hispanics represented 40 and 46 percent of the study population, respectively, they comprised a much smaller portion of those admitted to the jail system’s mental health service: 16 and 13 percent. Twenty-two percent of mental health patients were white, though they made up just 9 percent of the study. (source)