'Bad Barrels': An Organizational-Based Analysis of the Human Rights Abuses at Abu Ghraib Prison

Bad Barrels: An Organizational-Based Analysis of Human Rights Abuses at Abu Ghraib Prison, 17 U. PA. J. L. & SOC. CHANGE 75 (2014).

Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 14-403

31 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2014 Last revised: 29 Sep 2015

Ifeoma Ajunwa

Cornell University ILR School/Law School

Date Written: June 30, 2014

Abstract

November of the year 2013 marked ten years since the ignoble practices at the American military prison in Abu Ghraib came to light. The significance of this date garnered little mention. And yet, in the decade since reports of human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib horrified the world, there has been no organizational reform of the American carceral complex. This Article provides an organizational analysis of the human rights abuses that occurred at Abu Ghraib and offers suggestions to prevent future abuses within the American carceral system as a whole. Specifically, this Article employs the case study of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib as a heuristic device to demonstrate how criminal misconduct in the form of human rights abuses is tied to organizational design — meaning the organizational standards, structure, and other factors under which an organization operates — and how organizational theory should inform the enactment of future prison policy and laws to curb the occurrence of prisoner abuse.

This Article focuses on the case of Abu Ghraib for two reasons. First, the incidents at Abu Ghraib offer a strongly shared knowledge base about prisoner abuses given the widespread attention they received in the media. Second, the established similarities between behavior of prison guards in American military prisons and correctional officers in American civilian prisons provide fertile ground for applying organizational lessons gleaned from Abu Ghraib to the larger U.S. carceral system.

Keywords: Abu Ghraib, Organizational Theory, Prison Abuse, Prison Reform, Mass Incarceration, Interdisciplinary, Public Policy, International Human Rights, the Carceral Burden

JEL Classification: A12, A13, H54, 100, 131, J78

Suggested Citation

Ajunwa, Ifeoma, 'Bad Barrels': An Organizational-Based Analysis of the Human Rights Abuses at Abu Ghraib Prison (June 30, 2014). Bad Barrels: An Organizational-Based Analysis of Human Rights Abuses at Abu Ghraib Prison, 17 U. PA. J. L. & SOC. CHANGE 75 (2014).; Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 14-403 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2460859

Ifeoma Ajunwa (Contact Author)

Cornell University ILR School/Law School ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853-3901
United States

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