De-Humanizing Ourselves

We can’t de-humanize inmates without de-humanizing ourselves–A while back the state of California’s health care for prisoners was so lacking and so deficient, it was turned over to a receiver. The receiver then went to court to ask for $8bil to fix the problem. But California is in a financial hole, even more so than most other states, so now various officials, some with political ambitions, are criticizing the plans of the receiver. The latest attack is a recreation room with space for such things as yoga and art therapy. Calling it spa like, holistic, a gold plated Utopian hospital plan among other descriptions, the governor, along with several other state officials, is strongly objecting. While their objections have to do with the cost, they also have to do with providing criminals with amenities that are much too homelike. The receiver explains it this way, “I’d rather have inmates sitting in a small, relatively empty room practicing yoga than engaging in race riots or gang violence. I’m not exaggerating when I say that’s what can happen when you have overcrowded conditions and don’t provide medical care.” Regardless of consequences, the resistance to providing inmates with amenities continues and some threaten going to court to stop it.
It’s easy to treat inmates as sub-human, and it’s just as easy to forget that when we do, we de-humanize ourselves as well–because the measure of our humanity lies in how we treat each other.