Afterwards, he profusely thanked the guide for the demonstration, and the West Africans who could not speak English gave him a thumbs-up repeatedly. As everyone else walked away, Hamadou lingered, running his hands over the machine, his fingers cleaning lines in the sawdust. Some of his prisons were built of mud bricks and most lacked electricity. Later, he said, “I really liked the CCI factories, and got many good ideas for reintegration.” But then he sighed, “The level of our development is so different.”
In the late 1990s, drugs were flooding the US from Colombia, and the Clinton administration determined that they presented the clearest threat to US stability. Starting in 2000, the US spent $140 million to help overhaul the country’s justice sector, of which $7 million was put toward technical assistance in prisons. This investment was part of Plan Colombia, an $8 billion aid program that is still the largest outside the Middle East and Afghanistan since the end of the Cold War. Quite quickly, the INL realised its efforts to combat the criminals by training foreign police forces were futile without effective jails to hold them. Six new prisons were constructed between 2000 and 2003 based on blueprints of the Federal Correctional Complex in Coleman, Florida. Over the next dozen years, 16 more prisons were built, adding 30,545 beds, representing a 70% increase in the capacity of the system. Guards were trained with US instruction manuals translated word for word into Spanish.
Quite quickly, the INL realised its efforts to combat the criminals by training foreign police forces were futile without effective jails to hold them. Six new prisons were constructed between 2000 and 2003 based on blueprints of the Federal Correctional Complex in Coleman, Florida. Over the next dozen years, 16 more prisons were built, adding 30,545 beds, representing a 70% increase in the capacity of the system. Guards were trained with US instruction manuals translated word for word into Spanish.
“Colombia had become the laboratory of a little-studied aspect of globalisation: the export of US criminal and prison policies.”
Much of the leadership of ISIS, including its head, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was detained there and able to recruit from the general prison population, giving chalkboard lessons on suicide bombing and convening Sharia courts that held so much sway that many inmates refused to play table tennis, watch TV, or accept health care or vocational training for fear of running afoul of them. “Inadvertently, American-run prisons in Iraq strengthened the insurgency they were supposed to weaken,” said Jeremi Suri, a professor at the University of Texas, Austin, who has studied the history of prisons in Iraq.
After years of overruns, the unfinished prison was abandoned in 2007, along with $1.2 million in unused construction materials. The US inspector general described the project as “$40 million wasted in the desert.”
By 2012, the INL had trained at least 7,000 Afghan correctional officers who taught 90% of the basic training courses in the country. However, in 2013, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported that they had found “sufficiently credible and reliable evidence” that hundreds of detainees had been tortured and mistreated by wardens, many of whom were likely trained by the US.
Brownfield was forthright about the struggles the US has had working in foreign prisons: “I acknowledge that at best we get a C+ to a B- on getting Afghanistan, Colombia, and Iraq to use their prison systems in a way that meets their counternarcotics, anti-crime, or their counterterrorism objectives.”
But he remained proud of the INL’s work overall. “I’d say that in terms of improving human rights standards and our allies’ basic prison management we were successful — because in each case we have started from a prison system that was truly below bare minimum, even in Colombia,” he said. “In terms of responsibility, we try to train and equip our allies, but at the end of the day whatever they do must be the responsibility of that nation.”
“Though of course there is some degree of uncertainty and unpredictability, as there is with every transition, but we’re continuing our good work every single day,” the official said.
However, by the beginning of the Trump administration, Obama-era CVE programs were already under fire for failing to produce quantitative results — though defenders contend they have been underfunded and successes are hard to measure because they are often counterfactual, like a prison break that never happens. Today, they seem to be prime targets for the cuts to foreign aid that Trump has threatened.
Trump has spoken openly of his desire to reinstitute waterboarding. He has also promised to fill Guantanamo with “bad dudes,” reversing Obama’s drawdown of prisoners. Ultimately, applying Trump’s “America First” doctrine to the US’s involvement in foreign prisons may mean that the progressive aspects of its intervention are replaced by old policies that contributed to the lessons learned by Brownfield.fwal
Former extremists would learn skills that would help them become employed on their release rather than fighting for Boko Haram to earn a wage. Once the presentation concluded, two Nigeriens walked around the classroom with a tablet displaying a picture of a goat, earnestly urging the other participants to admire the animal up close.
He addressed the assembly in French, which the translators repeated in English into earpieces: “Our countries don’t have the same technology, but we have learned from you. We admire Colorado for your supermarkets, your malls, your roads, and your level of development.” He was excited to return to Niger and implement what he had learned, infused with the can-do attitude of the ICMTC.
The head of Niger’s ruling Party has publicly acknowledged the military’s inability to protect citizens who remain in the contested border region. By mid-2016, the coalition army had fractured leaving Niger to struggle alone, and US officials were openly contemplating establishing permanent military bases in West Africa to fortify the region.
But only one warden who visited the ICMTC has made a dairy at his prison, a small one composed of several dozen animals. A few other prison industries have sprung up, such as the same warden having his charges grow tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants to bolster the insufficient supply of food provided by the government. But larger prison industries have yet to take hold. And prisons remain dangerously overcrowded with extremists.
INL-supported reforms that would create a professional warden corps to replace the national guards who currently oversee the prisons has passed legislative hurdles and will likely be implemented later this year. Classification systems to divide extremists from normal prisoners and tighter security protocols have been implemented at several prisons. And, partly inspired by its work with the INL, the Nigerien government has opened a deradicalization centre in the country’s conflict zone, where more than 100 former Boko Haram fighters are being re-educated in a more peaceful vision of Islam, and it will soon expand.
“We are not very advanced. We can’t go very quickly,” he said. “We must go humbly with a project that takes into account our reality.”
Source: BuzzFeed|| By Doug Bock Clark
Find the original article here.