Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer
The PBS Frontline special,When Teens Get Life, investigates the archaic and cruel dimmension of the American justice system that allows children to be sent to prison for life. Additionally, the documentary provides some insight into how we house the nation's "worst" criminal offenders.
Unfortunately, the limited information provided about the Super Max Colorado State Prison featured in this edited video (8:21) is not reassuring. In fact, there appears to be some startling similarities between the treatment of inmates in the Colorado Super Max and the US prison at Guantánamo Bay. For example, Frontline was not permitted to film inside or outside of the prison or interview any inmates. Video footage of the teen inmate featured in the segment was obtained in 2004 by Human Rights Watch. Inmates are also denied counsel and the right to review testimony used against them in prison proceedings. Evidentiary testimony is considered confidential and is never made available to prisoners. Without counsel, the ability to cross examine witnesses or even see the evidence used against them, it can hardly be said that prisoners have any due process rights. Finally, prisoners at the Colorado Super Max are not assigned release dates.
Why do we have a Constitution?