We knew readers would respond to Charles Piller's latest investigation, about allegations of prisoner abuse in special "behavior management" units at prisons. And respond they have, beginning with a string of spontaneous comments on the promo for the two-part series, seconds after it popped onto sacbee.com Friday afternoon. Many readers were angry, saying we gave convicted felons -- many of them well-versed in lying -- too large a platform. A few were furious, suggesting the reporter spend a few nights in a cell with his new buddies. But amid the anger and fury and name calling were some measured thoughts on both sides.
If you have a strong stomach for conflict, take a look for yourself. In addition to the online commenters, others reached out to the reporter directly and they had some intriguing things to say as well:
Thank you for your work on the California Prison Behavior Modification Units. You are delving into areas which need to be brought to the surface. Please disregard the vitriolic retorts from the mostly correctional officers commenting. Their hate filled verbiage only serves to substantiate what you are reporting on. There is much more than you will ever be allowed to see or hear about, but your work is not in vain.
Yes, (criminals) are sent to prison for a crime, they have lost their freedom, to be "locked" away from society...Does this mean that they should be punished physically? Emotionally? Denied the basic human rights? To suffer? To suffer inhumane conditions?
Interestingly, that second email came from a former probation officer whose son has served time in prison.
If you want to hear Charlie discuss the story, and respond to some of the accusations of liberal bias in his own measured way, listen in to his interview with our partner, Capitol Public Radio, here.