Human rights record of the United States
Updated: 2016-04-15 08:09
Wanton Infringement on Civil Rights
Civil rights were wantonly infringed upon in the United States in 2015 with rampant gun-related crimes, excessive use of force by police, severe corruption in prisons and frequent occurrence of illegal eavesdropping on personal information.
Citizen's life and property security were threatened by violent crimes. According to the report "Crime in the United States" released by the FBI in 2015, an estimated 1,165,383 violent crimes occurred nationwide in 2014, of which 14,249 were murders, 84,041 were rapes, 325,802 robberies and 741,291 aggravated assaults. Nationwide, there were an estimated 8,277,829 property crimes, with the victims of such crimes suffering losses calculated at an estimated 14.3 billion U.S. dollars. The statistics showed the estimated rate of violent crime was 365.5 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, and the property crime rate was 2,596.1 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants (www.fbi.gov). Many cities in the United States saw large jumps in crime during the first half of 2015: the murder rate rose 48 percent and 59 percent compared to the same period of the previous year in Baltimore and St. Louis, respectively, said an article carried by the Economist website on December 1, 2015 (www.economist.com, December 1, 2015). James Howell of the U.S. National Gang Center pointed out that in the past five years the United States had seen an 8 percent increase in the number of gangs, an 11 percent increase in members and a 23 percent increase in gang-related homicides (www.usnews.com, March 6, 2015).
Citizen's right of life could not be guaranteed with the rampant use of guns. Statistics showed that there were more than 300 million guns in the United States which had a population of more than 300 million. Over the past decade, more than 4 million U.S. citizens became victims of assaults, robberies and other gun-related crimes. According to a toll report by the Gun Violence Archive, there were a total of 51,675 gun violence incidents in the United States last year as of December 28, including 329 mass shootings. Altogether 13,136 were killed and 26,493 injured (www.gunviolencearchive.org, December 28, 2015). According to the report "Crime in the United States" released by the FBI in 2015, firearms were used in 67.9 percent of the nation's murders, 40.3 percent of robberies, and 22.5 percent of aggravated assaults in 2014 (www.fbi.gov).
Excessive use of violence by police gravely violated human rights. Excessive use of violence by police during law enforcement had resulted in a large number of civilian casualties. Police shot dead 965 people last year as of December 24, according to data posted on The Washington Post website (www.washingtonpost.com, December 24, 2015). Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man, died while in police custody in Baltimore. His death, reportedly a result of violence by the police, sparked "Justice for Freddie" protests (www.usatoday.com, December 22, 2015). Outraged that it took too long to charge a Chicago police officer in African-American Laquan MacDonald's shooting death, demonstrators took to the street to demand justice in his death. The police officer had a history of 20 complaints before he gunned down the 17-year-old, but none resulted in discipline (edition.cnn.com, November 26, 2015). According to a report by the NBC News on November 19, 2015, protestors camped outside a police precinct in Minneapolis after African-American Jamar Clark, 24, was shot dead when he was already under police control. The demonstrations turned violent later (www.nbc.com, November 19, 2015).
The government infringed on citizens' privacy by illegally eavesdropping personal information. According to a report carried by the website of The Washington Post on December 1, 2015, the FBI used special authority to compel Internet firms to hand over user information, including full browsing histories, without court approvals (www.washingtonpost.com, December 1, 2015). According to a report released by the Pew Research Center on May 29, 2015, a majority of Americans opposed the government collecting bulk data on its citizens, two-thirds believed there weren't adequate limits on what types of data could be collected, 61 percent said they had become less confident that the programs were serving the public interests, 54 percent of Americans disapproved of the U.S. government's collection of telephone and Internet data as part of anti-terrorism efforts, and 74 percent said they should not give up privacy and freedom for the sake of safety. Most said it was important to control who could get their information (93 percent), as well as what information about them was collected (90 percent) (www.pewresearch.org, May 29, 2015).
Prison guards wantonly trampled on prisoners' human rights. According to a serial report on the website of the Miami Herald in December 2015, Lowell Correctional Institution, the nation's largest women's prison, was haunted by corruption, torment and sex abuse. The guards took hundreds of female inmates as whores and pressured them to barter sex for basic necessities, a shield from abuse or awards. In the past 10 years 57 inmates died in the prison, not accounting those who make it to hospital (www.miamiherald.com, December 12, 13 and 16, 2015). The Washington Post reported on its website on May 13, 2015 that a guard in the Fairfax County jail killed a mentally ill woman, Natasha McKenna, with a Taser stun gun (www.washingtonpost.com, May 13, 2015). The Fox News reported on its website on April 9, 2015 that guards in a prison in Florida was accused of abusing and even killing inmates. In one case, a mentally-ill inmate Darren Rainey was forced to take a shower for two hours with the water reportedly rigged to a scalding 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite his calls for help, no one came. He reportedly died after his skin was partially burned off his body (www.foxnews.com, April 9, 2015).
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