The United States government, which came under fire for abusing detainees in Iraq, has spent $41.6 million creating a new prison system there as part of a program to revamp the criminal justice system from top to bottom, Reuters reports. A Bush administration official, who asked not to be named, said 70 U.S. correctional experts, including prison wardens, managers and instructors, had been involved in getting the new Iraqi Correctional Service running. The experts established a training academy for Iraqi guards and administrators near Baghdad in December 2004, and the first class graduated the following month. They have now graduated 4,029 Iraqi correctional officers, including 20 women who have undergone nine-week training courses.
The new prison service is also using a wing of the Abu Ghraib prison, the site of abuse in the past. Its mission is to house regular criminals rather than security detainees suspected of belonging to or helping insurgents fighting the U.S. occupation and the Iraqi government. One expert questioned whether the U.S. prison system offered the best model for Iraq to follow.”I would have liked them to take a look at the practices of some of the European countries where they have an independent prison inspectorate, or Canada. The U.S. model is not exactly the best,” said Jenni Gainsborough of Penal Reform International, which promotes cooperation between governments and non-governmental organizations to promote good prisons.