Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mr. Moussaoui Goes to Azkaban

Zacharias Moussaoui, now sentenced to life in prison is going to get a treatment that may very well make proponents of the death penalty a little less disappointed with life sentences.

Our French terrorist friend is being sent to a place that is probably about as pleasant as the hell-prison of Harry Potter fame referenced in the subject line.

The Supermax prison is brand new, opened in 1994, and designed with the obnoxious prisoner in mind. Its cells are dimly lit, allow some sunlight through a slit window high in the ceiling, and is completely constructed of concrete, right down to the desk, stool and bed. There is no escape. But more than being a place of confinement, it is a place that will likely humble the obnoxious Moussaoui. For a peek into the daily life that he can be expected to enjoy,

most individuals are kept for at least 23 hours each day in solitary confinement. They are housed in a 7-by-12 foot (3.5-by-2 meter) soundproofed room, built behind a steel door and grate. The remaining free hour is spent exercising alone in a separate concrete chamber. Prisoners rarely see each other, and inmates' only human interaction is limited to that of the prison guards. Religious services are broadcast in from a small chapel.

Most cells' furniture is made almost entirely out of poured concrete, including a desk, stool, and bed covered by a thin mattress. Each chamber contains a toilet that shuts off if plugged, a shower that runs on a timer to prevent flooding, and a sink missing a potentially dangerous tap. Rooms may also be fitted with polished steel mirrors bolted to the wall, an electric light, a 13-inch black and white television, and a cigarette lighter. Windows in rooms are small, set high up in the wall, and point towards the sky, confusing the prisoner as to his specific location within the complex.

The prison as a whole contains countless motion detectors and cameras, 1,400 remote-controlled steel doors, and 12 foot high razor wire fences. Laser beams, pressure pads, and attack dogs guard the area between the prison walls and razor wire. The facility is built into the side of a mountain, and visitors and prisoners enter through the same heavily-guarded tunnel.
And to get a flavor for the effect that spending the rest of one's life in this paradise will have, read the following input from a prison psychology expert:

Prisoners "become extremely depressed and lethargic -- sleeping, lying on their bunks, staring at the ceiling, declining to go out and exercise,'' he said. They begin to lose memory, can't concentrate and suffer severe panic attacks, he said, or become uncontrollably enraged over insignificant things.
In short, the sensory deprivation and the cold hard contents of the cell, as well as a lack of any meaningful human interaction whittle away the psyches of persons who have shown that they cannot be trusted to have contact with the outside world.

Sure, he'll rattle off his invecta on his concrete desk for a year or so, but soon after that the thoughts of al-Qaida and their aborted political revolution will blissfully escape his mind, as he relegates himself to obsessing over dust particles in his cell.


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