Torture in USA: First of 6 officers gets 20 years over torture of two Black men

 The only thing that is universal about human rights is that human rights abuses are universal—they take place in every society. In modern times, when human rights abuses cases are needed for reference, people often look at countries labeled as “non-democratic”, because it is assumed that democratic countries do not commit human rights abuses. This assumption is what allows for severe human rights abuses in democratic countries to go undetected, unreported, and unaddressed. A case in point is torture inside the United States. The most recent case has been just adjudicated and only the officers are held responsible, which means that there will be no systemic change to address torture in the USA, and especially in the police and prison systems.

Hunter Elward, one of the six white former law enforcement officers in Mississippi who pleaded guilty to charges connected to the beating and sexual assault of two Black men, was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in federal prison. Elward, four other former Rankin County sheriff’s deputies and another officer pleaded guilty to more than a dozen federal charges in August after Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker accused them of bursting into a home without a warrant, beating them, assaulting them with a sex toy and shocking them repeatedly with stun guns last year. Jenkins said one of the deputies shoved a gun in his mouth and fired the weapon.

The events behind this case


According to the federal indictment, Parker was staying at the home of a longtime friend, and Jenkins was there temporarily. McAlpin received a complaint from one of his white neighbors that some Black men had been staying at the property and the neighbor had observed "suspicious" behavior.

 That night, Dedmon reached out to a group of officers and asked if they were "available for a mission," according to the complaint. On Jan. 24, 2023, the officers entered the home without a warrant, handcuffed the men, shocked them with stun guns, used racial slurs and assaulted the men with a sex toy.

 At one point, Dedmon "demanded to know where the drugs were" and fired a bullet into a wall, the complaint said. Dedmon also "poured milk, alcohol, and chocolate syrup on their faces and into their mouths," and "poured cooking grease" on Parker's head. Elward threw eggs at the men.

 Opdyke, Middleton, Dedmon and McAlpin used a wooden kitchen implement, a metal sword and pieces of wood to beat Parker, the complaint said. The incident culminated in a "mock execution," when Elward fired a bullet in Jenkins' mouth, which lacerated his tongue, broke his jaw and exited through his neck, the complaint said.

 The officers ordered the men to strip naked and shower "to wash away evidence of abuse" before they were brought to jail, according to the complaint. The officers then concocted a cover story and "planted and tampered with evidence to corroborate their false cover story and cover up their misconduct," it said.


The officers submitted fraudulent drug evidence to the crime lab, filed false reports, charged Jenkins with crimes he did not commit, made false statements to investigators, pressured witnesses to stick to the cover story, planted a gun and destroyed video evidence, shell casings, and stun gun cartridges, according to the complaint.

 The US Constitution guarantees that “cruel and unusual punishments shall not be inflicted”. The USA has ratified the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Yet in prisons and jails across the USA inmates are being tortured or ill-treated.  More than 1,700,000 people are in prisons and jails in the USA. Half of all prisoners are African Americans and over 60 per cent are from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds. Nearly 20,000 are less than 18 years old. The number of people in prisons and jails has more than tripled since 1980. The rate of increase in the number of women incarcerated has been even greater. Violence is endemic in many US prisons and jails. Overcrowding and inadequate staffing are making the problem worse. There are reports of physical violence, including rape, by inmates in facilities across the USA. Abuses by prison staff include beatings, particularly in isolated segregation units.  There have been many reports of sexual abuse committed by correctional staff against inmates, especially of women inmates by male guards who, contrary to international standards, routinely supervise female prisoners.  A growing number of children under 18 are being held in facilities with adult prisoners, where they are particularly vulnerable to abuse.


Race and the Prison and Justice Systems in the United States, by the numbers

African Americans make up:

  •  13% of the US population
  • 13% of drug users
  • 35% of drug arrests
  • 55% of drug convictions
  • 74% of those sentenced to prison for drugs

African American women (with an incarceration rate of 205 per 100,000) are more than three times as likely as Latinas (60 per 100,000) and six times more likely than white women (34 per 100,000) to face imprisonment.” Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2000.

In 2000, substantially more African Americans were under some form of correctional supervision (jail, prison, probation, and parole) than were enrolled in college. Among whites… there were more than twice as many whites in college as there were under correctional supervision”

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (2003), an African-American boy born in 2001 faced a 32 percent chance of being imprisoned at some point in his life, compared to a 17 percent likelihood for a Hispanic boy and a 6 percent likelihood for a white boy.”

Torture and Policing in US Cities:

Additional resrources on torture in US cities are being created including the Chicago Torture Archive (human rights documentation of Commander Jon Burge’s violence against more than 100 Black people, from the 1970s-1990s) the archive contain nightmarish stories, like that of Darrell Cannon. In 1983, three Chicago police officers arrested Mr. Cannon in connection with a murder case, drove him to a desolate area and tortured a confession out of him. Mr. Cannon explains in court documents that he refused to confess after the officers forced the barrel of a shotgun into his mouth and repeatedly pulled the trigger. He finally gave in, he said, after they shocked his genitals with a cattle prod….



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