01 May 2009

GOP Lawmakers Contend U.S. Prisons Weak

Am I reading this the wrong way, or is it unseemly for grown politicians to beg the government not to house notorious criminals in . . . maximum security prisons?

Members of Congress were already pleading with Gates on Thursday not to send the detainees to their states. "Please not at Leavenworth," said Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.
Really, Senator? Because if I were a constituent in Kansas, I'd strongly prefer to hear my state voice in the Capitol argue that the maximum security prison near me succeeds at what it is designed to do, house and secure dangerous people away from the law-abiding public. The only way I can read Brownback's request is as a vote of no confidence in his state's most visible prison.

Relocating Guantanamo detainees is a tricky business, and it's not my goal to try and solve the problem here. But I don't think it serves the public interest to undermine the fundamental role of ultra high security prisons, such as Leavenworth and Colorado's Supermax, in the name of a little bit of politicking. I'm much more in favor of this response, tested in January by Colorado's Bill Ritter:
One of the sites under consideration is Supermax, located in Florence about 90 miles south of Denver. Inmates already at Supermax include Zacarias Moussaoui, a Sept. 11 conspirator; Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center attack; and Richard Reid, who tried to blow up a trans-Atlantic jetliner with a shoe bomb.

Ritter wouldn't oppose transferring the Guantanamo Bay detainees to Supermax because it was built for just that type of high-risk inmate, Ritter spokesman Evan Dreyer said today.

"If Supermax is chosen, there's no reason to take a 'not in my backyard' approach," Dreyer said.
Moussaoui, Yousef, and Reid, known terrorists, right here in my backyard, and I never even noticed. That's good, right?