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Should prison torture be abolished and why

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 1554 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Claim: Prison torture should be abolished because it affects detainees physically, psychologically and socially.

1. causes that lead to prison torture

Gain of confidential information

Gain information in wars

The search of illegal band leaders and recruits


2. Physical causes

Physical disfigurations



Personal experiences

Psychological & Social consequences

Psychological outcomes

Post-traumatic psychiatric


Social outcomes

Society interactions after torture


Torture might be a method used to gain information and to punish prisoners for decades, but we have to consider the use of other procedures. Torturing should also be considered as a crime, because the torturer behavior of causing pain and simulating death is an unethical process used by criminals as well.


“Prison Torture” explains the harmful consequences that prison torture can cause to the detainees and why it should be abolished. The first part of this paper discusses the common causes of prison torture in which the most known is obtaining confidential information from criminals. The second part of this paper reflects the physical consequences of the prisoner during the process of torture. The third part explains how the experience of being tortured can lead to post-traumatic psychological disorders and other issues. This traumatic disorder could eventually intervene in the individual’s behavior towards the society. In brief, torture in prison may generate results that could be even worse than the crimes committed by prisoners and therefore it should be banned.


There are deplorable insights on the realism of life within prisons in the United States and probably around the world. Sadistic actions and treatment that are almost similar happen in all prisons, evoking a lot of debate from human rights activists among other concerned bodies on the magnitude of torture in prisons. The torture varies in different prisons but at the end of the day human rights of a prisoner somewhere are violated ;some corrective institutions release prisoners to fierce dogs and they are savaged for about half an hour or so, other torture methods include electrocuting with Cattle Prods which is very traumatizing , in some cases a prisoner is burned by highly toxic or corrosive chemicals, among other barbaric abuse.

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Looking in the society context a prisoner is considered as the person with less powers as long as they are behind bars; thus it explains why a prisoner is the most vulnerable to torture. Although a prisoner finds himself or herself behind bars owing to wrongdoing or breaking laws of a given society they are viewed as isolated people; who deserves to be deprived their freedom or liberty hence they are well placed in prisons. A common cause of prison torture; is in a case where a prisoner is abused to obtain confidential information from him, this is common in war crimes, terrorism, or crimes against the state for instance treason. In some states a prison or a corrective institutions may choose to use torture on culprits incase they want to curb serious crimes like illegal movements and cults, drugs networks etc. Criminals netted in relation to specific crimes are tortured to a point of confession.

American criminal judicial system is extremely ineffective, expensive, and revoltingly merciless with a rich history with racism. Most city departments are famous for their notorious brutality hence there is a record of over 2million people in corrective or federal facilities; while other 3.5 million are placed under other types of social control like community service. Hence Americans reformists came up with modern prisons in support of anti torture policies; they argued that even hard core criminals would reform by imprisonment alone, hard labor and contrition. Although slavery was not legitimized captives were punished for crime (Davis, 2002).

Following the Abu Ghraib military prisoner torture and abuse scandal in the year 2004, prison torture was redefined since so much was revealed through leaked video tapes (Gebhardt, 2004). Therefore many independent observers and researchers went ahead to explore the activities of torture in various prisons around America. It was evident that most prisons used similar or closely related ways of torture (Davis, 2002)

Study shows that the brutality prisoners are exposed to leave irreversivible physical and psychological scars or even cause death. In cases where prison officials use toxic chemicals on prisoners, it is obvious severe physical disfigurations may occur due to burns and erosion of flesh by the harsh chemicals some victims burn to death. Some prisons deprive the torture victims’ medical attention even after inflicting wounds on them. Moreover some prisons avail “medical care” which either is too little or too late.

Other institutions may choose to have dogs which are released to prisoners in an enclosure and they let them savage on the prisoner causing so much pain and even loss of limbs or other body parts. Ruthless beating and kicks may cause fractures and cuts which may worsen if they go untreated at times they rot and a prisoner ends up losing the fractured part of the body. Some officers are so radical that they may choose to amputate a prisoner without anaesthesia.The most common method of torture in prisons around the world is the electrocution using cattle prod; this can cause severe brain damage. Sexual abuse cannot go unmentioned since this takes place everyday in almost every prison in the world this may be torture from prison officials or fellow prisoners who may be forced to engage in sodomy, others could be rape, homicide and other inhumane acts (Davis, 2002).

There are episodes in life that can not be erased in the mind of a human being; Thus Personal experiences can make or damage the life of a prisoner. In most prisons the criminals are tortured before their fellow inmates hence their counterparts may see a prisoner tortured to death, their lives are filled with fear and anxiety and it is likely to find them hallucinating or they are rendered in permanent shock.Psychological and Social consequences are very common in victims of prison torture psychological outcomes include conditions like Post-traumatic psychiatric where a victim may have experienced a brain injury or brain trauma. This is symbolized by changes in personality traits, disorientation, confusion and at times impaired memory (Coltheart, 2009).

A victim of prison torture may never be able to interact freely with the people around him or her this due to various factors that affect them from low self esteem to dull emotional responses like sexual inappropriateness especially if sexually abused, paranoid, aggressiveness etc A person who has experienced prison torture may change or may not change their lifestyle of crime; this could be because of general outlook of life. Some tend to harden and even become hardcore criminals than they were before. They develop a tendency to hate on law enforcers and all they want is to associate with criminals and rebels. Their relationship even with family and friends deteriorates since they feel unwanted. Many a times they may have episodes of their lives in their mind and they may do weird things like screaming, nightmares, wailing, or even trying to fight back; so they prefer staying alone (Coltheart, 2009).

Torture might be a method used to gain information and to punish prisoners for decades, but we have to consider the use of other procedures. Torturing should also be considered as a crime, because the torturers behavior of causing pain and simulating death is an unethical process used by criminals as well. Revisiting the infamous horrors of Nazi prisons, which was discovered after the World War II; it really enhanced awareness all over the world about the extensive use of torture to get information from prisoners (Seidenberg, 2007).

Movements such as World Medical Association (WMA) emerged in 1947 following protests and mission to curb torture and other cruel penal approaches used on prisoners.

According to (Burgers & Mark, 1994)The United Nations further endorsed conventions against torture of prisoners which are in place till today, it defines torture as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, or incidental to lawful sanctions” (UN, 2007).Thus prison torture is illegal according to the international law.


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