U.S. prison conditions are so bad, Britain’s putting a hold on some extraditions

U.S. prison conditions are so bad, Britain’s putting a hold on some extraditions

British resident Lauri Love was arrested on suspicion of having hacked into key U.S. computer systems in October 2013. He’s been fighting U.S. authorities’ efforts to have him extradited ever since, maintaining that he should be tried in the United Kingdom. On Monday, Love scored a victory: An appeals court agreed that extraditing him to the U.S. would be “oppressive by reason of his physical and mental condition.” Love has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, and suffers from depression, asthma, and eczema. 

The premise of the case alone was damning: The principle questions the court enumerated for resolution surrounded Love’s health and rights in light of “the conditions he would face in the United States.” Indeed, much of the opinion concerns the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and its treatment (or lack thereof) of imprisoned people. Several experts testified to establish what U.S. prison practices would mean for someone with Love’s unique set of ailments. 

Professor Baron-Cohen took issue with the sufficiency of the protocols operated in America, to support prisoners [like Love] with Asperger Syndrome, depression and at high suicidal risk, as described by Dr Lyn, Psychology Services Branch Administrator of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”), and others. They were not satisfactory for a patient with the unique combination of depression, Asperger Syndrome and eczema. Non-emergency mental health services are voluntary but his Asperger Syndrome would be likely to prevent Mr Love seeking regular psychiatric help, so he would not receive treatment for clinical depression until it reached “crisis/suicidal” level. He would be unlikely to be allowed to see a private physician, who could be better qualified to help. Mentally ill inmates were often put in solitary confinement where they cannot access mental health services, with especially negative consequences for Mr Love.

The court’s distaste was evident in its descriptions of solitary confinement and suicide watch, as were hints of incredulity.

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