Most Americans have grown up believing that our prisons are just cushy retreats for criminals, compared to the veritable gulags that most poor countries send their prisoners to. To some extent this is true. There are definitely other prison systems that are far more cruel than ours, but among the developed nations of the world, our prisons are apparently considered too “inhumane” by their standards.
That’s the conclusion that one Irish court has come to in the case of Ali Charaf Damache, who is an Algerian born Irish citizen. He was arrested in 2010 and served a 3 year prison sentence for making death threats against a Muslim critic of jihadis. However, he is still wanted in the US, and stands accused of trying to form a terror cell in Europe that could have attacked America. If sent to America he would likely be placed in solitary confinement in Colorado’s notorious ADX Florence supermax prison, for up to 45 years.
Solitary confinement is widely regarded as a form of torture, due to the lack of social contact and sensory deprivation. Prisoners are often driven to madness under these conditions, and are prone to experiencing hallucinations, and becoming more violent, paranoid, and withdrawn. For these reasons, the Irish court decided that sending him to the US would be inhumane, and are refusing to extradite him. The judge noted that such prison conditions amounted to “a breach of the constitutional requirement to protect persons from inhuman and degrading treatment and to respect the dignity of the human being.”