What Would Jesus Do at Gitmo?

An American prisoner claims to recognize the behavior at Abu Ghraib and other detention facilities. It’s just like home, he said in a column published in the Northeast Florida independent, Folio Weekly. (Articles from Folio are not available online.)

Louis Templeman, who occupies Bunk E2207-L at Baker Correctional Institution in Sanderson, Florida said while it hasn’t been that bad for him, it isn’t that good either.

I have not personally seen the same level of abuse as depicted in recent news from Iraq because I have kept out of trouble. Never “gone to jail” or “to the box,” which speaks of internal punishment for prisoners who are caught breaking the rules. I have never been in a “close management” camp… 8-foot-by-12-foot cells to which prisoners are restricted for all but one hour a week…

I have, however, seen and endured what amounts to psychological torment. While being processed into the prison system at one of the four reception centers, a short, mean-faced female officer…approached me.

“Inmate,…get your hands out of your pockets. You wanna play with your pathetic, tiny dick? Go find yourself a boy to do it with. Do you hear me?”

…This aggressive speech became part of the aural wallpaper that surrounded me.”

It’s not just mean guards that are the problem, Templeman said, but the whole screwed-up system.

I have sympathy for the men and women who will be blamed and punished for the abuse of the Iraqi prisoners. America is incensed and outraged by the unseemly images that tell the world America is not really one of the good guys. Somehow, we all know that our true moral value is revealed by the way we treat our prisoners.

When Jesus said, “I was in prison and you visited me,” he made clear his wish for humane treatment of prisoners. Perhaps we, as a nation, should hear him say, “I was in Abu Ghraib, and you abused and sexually humiliated me.”

We need to remember that unless they’re on death row, prisoners get out someday. They rejoin us in our communities, or in the case of Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, their own homelands. If someone had entered these places without grudges, it doesn’t seem likely they’d leave that way.


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