Saturday, February 10, 2007

Do Criminals Deserve Better Treatment Than Soldiers?

Summit put under state watch *

"Juvenile delinquents at a Quad-City military-style program were often hungry, given mere minutes to eat, occasionally denied timely access to the bathroom and subjected to corporal punishment, an investigation conducted in January has revealed."
Let me get this straight: This is a military-style program where juvenile delinquents were given mere minutes to eat, occasionally denied bathroom breaks, and subjected to punishment by exercising, right? So... This military-style rehabilitation program is pretty much like basic military fucking training, right?

The first week in basic training, we got ten minutes in the dining facility. That's ten minutes to process through the meal line, sit down, eat, stand up, discard our trash, and leave. By the time we sat down to eat, we were already being yelled at to get up and leave because our time was up. And if we were caught combing our teeth with our tongues, we were accused of smuggling food out of the dining facility. At that point, five minutes to eat a meal could have been an eternity. We were grateful for five seconds. I don't think they even gave us real food that first week. I think it was that kind of food they photograph for fast food advertisements.

We didn't get frequent bathroom breaks either. You know why? We didn't fucking need them. It's amazing what not being able to eat will do for your digestion habits. We peed when we got up, and we peed before bed, and that was enough. Not one person in a group of sixty had a bowel movement in all of five weeks. Stress was blamed, but I'm thinking that between the lack of sufficient food and the food we did get being loaded with salt peter, the constipation could have been easily attributed to other factors.

Don't even get me started on corporal punishment. The military's answer to every disciplinary problem is more exercise. Bed not made right? Exercise. Feign nervousness? Exercise. Ask permission to use the restroom? Exercise. If you can't exercise, more exercise should fix that. The "push-up rest position" was exactly the name implies. It was the position at which you rested if you felt like you needed a break from doing an unruly number of push-ups. If you felt like you couldn't do one more push-up, you could suspend yourself in the push-up rest position until you felt like you could accomplish more, at which point, you would. Then you would collapse and cry a little from muscle fatigue, and you would be required to do more because everyone knows that pushing your body past its breaking point and then pushing it further is good exercise discipline. It's interesting how, for the first several months of one's military career, they condition you that exercise is a form of punishment, then for the rest of your life they tell you that you're supposed to enjoy it.

The first night we in-processed, we slept a grand total of two hours. The next night, I believe we were priviledged to earn four. Four hours of sleep each night was the understood norm for six weeks, and we would periodically have to cover a two-hour "door guard" shift through the night. This consisted of standing at a podium reading from a book of military history waiting for the unlikely event of a drill instructor challenging your door at 3:30 in the morning. More often than not, a drill instructor would walk through the sleeping bay and wake up, basically, everyone if they couldn't see a reflection in one trainee's boots. That trainee got to spend the next half-hour or so polishing his boots while the rest of us got to spend the rest of the night hating existence.

You may argue that, by signing up to the military, we voluneered to endure such harsh treatment, so we can't complain. Mind you, I'm not complaining; I'm stating fact, and I will freely admit that what I went through was chump change compared to what troops went through twenty or thirty years ago, when people on the laundry detail got undershorts stuffed in their mouths if they were unable to completely wash out the, ahem, skidmarks. But you know what? The military members generally come out of it more disciplined, more responsible, more respectful, and more appreciative of what they have. Would it be such a horrible thing for juvenile delinquents to adopt some of these same qualities?

Yes, we did make a conscious choice to go through that treatment, but didn't these kids, too? I mean, they chose to commit crimes, which resulted in them being sent to a military-style rehabilitation center. If you don't want to be treated like a criminal, don't commit crimes, stupid. It's not like it's that hard not to commit a crime. Generally all you have to do is nothing, and you have far less to worry about as a direct result. People are complaining that these juvenile delinquents are receiving as punishment the same treatment that the people in our military receive voluntarily. I just can't feel sorry for criminals who are treated roughly the same as law-abiding citizens.

In the Iron Maiden song "Age of Innocence," Bruce Dickinson sang:
"We cannot even warn each other of evil in our midst / They have more rights than us, you cannot call that just."
When people are distraught that criminals get subject to the same treatment that they revile our military heroes for willingly accepting, I begin to wonder if truer words have been sung.

* The sexual abuse allegations notwithstanding. That is wrong, but that is not the issue here. By all accounts those responsible for such reprehensible crimes are currently being punished for their repugnant behavior.

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