|China’s Report on US Human Rights Record in 2000
Information Office of China's State Council
II. Rampant Violence and Arbitrary Judicial System Are Jeopardizing
the freedom and lives of US citizens
The United States, the only country where carrying a private weapon
is a constitutional right, is a society ridden with violence.
The United States is the world's number one "gun nation"
with more than 200 million private guns, or nearly one for each
The number of registered weapon vendors in the country exceeds
100,000, more than the total number of overseas outlets of fast food
A tracking investigation of 70,000 guns conducted annually by a US
agency has shown that about 50,000 of them were used in assaults, and
the rest turned up in criminal investigations: 5,000 were used in
murders, 5,000 for assaults, several thousand were used in thefts and
robberies, and some were used in drug-related assault incidents.
The excessive number of privately owned guns has resulted in
countless gun-related assaults, resulting in tragedy for many innocent
On February 29, 2000, a six-year-old boy in the state of Michigan
killed a girl, one of his classmates.
On April 18 that year, a man in suburban Detroit, who became angry
when his neighbors complained about him, fired on the office of the
apartment complex, leaving three women dead or injured.
At the night of April 24, seven children were senselessly
slaughtered by a gunman at the Washington National Zoo.
On December 28, four masked gunmen broke into a home in
Philadelphia fatally shooting seven people and injuring three.
This year on January 9, a gunman killed three people in Houston,
Texas, and on February 5, another gunman killed four people and
injured four others at a factory near Chicago.
Statistics have shown that over 31,000 people in the United States
are killed by guns each year, and over 80 people are killed in
gun-related incidents every day.
Police brutality is not uncommon in the United States.
Each year, thousands of allegations of police abuse are filed across
the country, but relatively few police officers who violate the law are
Victims seeking redress faced obstacles that ranged from overt
intimidation to the reluctance of local and federal prosecutors to take
on police brutality cases.
During 1999, about 12,000 civil rights complaints, most alleging
police abuse, were submitted to the US Department of Justice, but over
the same period just 31 officers confessed or were convicted.
The judicial system in the US is extremely unfair, with the death
penalty exercised in 38 of the 50 US states.
By July 1, 2000, there were 3,682 people on death row in the nation,
90 percent of whom had been victims of sexual abuse and assault.
Most of them had to rely on officially appointed lawyers as they were
too poor to pay for their own attorneys.
After reviewing the 5,760 death penalty cases over a period of 23
years starting 1973 in the US, a team of Columbia University professors
revealed on June 12, 2000 that 68 percent of the death penalty sentences
in the country did not fit the crimes.
They said that on average more than two of every three death penalty
sentences were overturned on appeal.
The rate of erroneous judgment on death penalty in the state of
Florida was 73 percent, while the figures rose to as high as 100 percent
in the states of Kentucky, Maryland and Tennessee, said the professors.
A total of 660 people have been executed since the death penalty was
reinstated in 1976 by the Supreme Court of the United States; 500 people
were executed in the past eight years.
In 2000, over 70 people were executed, accounting for 11 percent of
The United States violates international conventions by convicting
and executing juvenile and mentally retarded offenders, and failing to
provide defendants facing execution with competent attorneys.
Thirty mentally retarded people have been executed in the United
States in the past decade.
Citing figures from the US Department of Justice, the American
newspaper USA Today reported in its August 8 edition that about 6.3
million men and women in the US were on probation or parole, or were in
jail or prison at the end of 1999.
The figure represents 3 percent of the adult population of the United
States. The "correctional population" increased 2.7 percent
from 1998 and 44.6 percent from 1990, according to the newspaper.
Under US law, whose who are serving prison terms and former inmates
out on probation or parole are disenfranchised, and one quarter of the
states denied the right to vote of those who had served their sentences.
It is estimated that over one million Americans who have finished
serving their sentences are deprived of their right to vote.
A report of a US judicial policy research institute showed that more
than two million men and women were behind bars by February 15, 2000, up
75 percent from the 1.14 million reported 11 years ago, accounting for
one-quarter of the total across the world, and ranking first in the
The US Department of Justice also revealed in August 2000 that the
rate of incarceration had reached 690 inmates per 100,000 residents by
the end of 1999, also the highest in the world. The state of Louisiana
took the lead with 736 inmates per 100,000.
Despite huge spending that far exceeds the federal budget for
education, US prisons are overcrowded, prison violence is rampant and
prisoners are badly treated.
Statistics show that in 1998, 59 inmates in the US were killed by
other inmates, and assaults, fights, and rapes injured 6, 750 inmates
and 2,331 prison staff.
Estimates by non-governmental groups in the state of California have
shown that over 10,000 sexual assaults occur daily in US prisons, and
male inmates are sexually assaulted by their roommates. In the most
extreme cases, the raped inmates were literally the slaves of the
perpetrators, being "rented out" for sex, "sold," or
even auctioned off to other inmates.
Despite the devastating psychological impact of such abuse,
perpetrators were rarely punished adequately.
A report released in September 2000 by the US Department of Justice
said an "institutional culture that supports and promotes
abuses" was in place in US prisons.
Frequent reports of physical abuse by prison guards include brutal
beatings by officers and officers paying inmates to beat other inmates.
At Wallens Ridge State Prison, Virginia's super-maximum security
prison, 50,000-volt stun guns were often used against inmates.
The Virginia Department of Corrections reported that between January
1999 and June 2000, prison guards at Red Onion State Prison, Virginia's
super-max security prison, shot a total of 116 blank rounds and 25
stinger rounds of rubber bullets and discharged stun guns on 130
At Corcoran State Prison in California, eight prison guards drove a
group of inmates to a small playground for a wrestling match that
resulted in several deaths.
Over 20,000 inmates were placed in solitary confinement in special
maximum security facilities, where they were locked alone in small and
sometimes windowless cells and released for only a few hours each week.
They were handcuffed, shackled and escorted by officers whenever they
left their cells.
At Wisconsin's new super-maximum prisons, inmates were subjected to
round-the-clock confinement in isolation, subject to constant
fluorescent lighting in their cells and 24-hour video monitoring.