Thursday, May 21, 2009

Colorado Senators Against Relocating Guantanamo Detainees to State

BOULDER, Colorado -- Colorado's US Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet voiced their opposition Wednesday to any proposal to relocate detainees from Guantanamo Bay to their state.

The senators spoke up when California's Dianne Feinstein suggested that Colorado's federal supermax prison, Florence ADMAX, which houses the country's most dangerous criminals, would be a suitable location for the detainees. Feinstein also said that her own state could house the inmates: "We have maximum security prisons in California eminently capable of holding these people as well and from which people - trust me - do not escape."

Feinstein is right, and I have not heard any protest from either Colorado senator about how the state already houses over 4,000 federal prisoners. In fact, despite the state's moderate crime rate (ranked 25th in the country - the definition of moderate), it has experienced the country's second-highest rate of prison growth since 1979 (trailing only Texas), thanks in large part to the vast network of federal prisons. During that time period, the number of state and federal prisons in Colorado has increased from seven to 32, including six federal facilities.

I was so incensed by the senators' reaction that I composed a letter to both of them, reproduced here:
I was extremely disappointed by your position on the relocation of prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. Why not Colorado? It is especially hypocritical for a senator from Colorado to be so against relocating them here, since we gleefully accept the most dangerous criminals from the federal system, turning our state into the country's Gulag.

Colorado is already home to the country's most dangerous criminals at Florence's ADMAX, who are likely more dangerous than the handful of Guantanamo detainees that the federal government has determined don't even warrant immediate prosecution.

Guantanamo Bay is a stain on America, and you are keeping it open by pandering to the most base, ludicrous, irrational fears of the American people. These are not supercriminals, and they can be easily handled like any other inmates at ADMAX or any other maximum-security facility in the state. Why do you have no faith in the federal prison system? These prisoners have rights to due process, and we should not keep them sequestered illegally beyond the reach of the Constitution. They can be safely detained, tried, and convicted in Colorado or any other US state. The focus should be on closing Guantanamo, not passing this hot potato to another jurisdiction. Shame on you, sir, for slowing the closing of one of the Bush administration's worst legacies.
Perhaps the senators have been watching a different science fiction movie, and instead they support sending the detainees to Ceti Alpha V.

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