Brittney Grenier’s prison conditions speak to the urgency of returning her home

Just like in late February, when she seemed to disappear from the map after being arrested at a Moscow airport for possession of a vape cartridge, we don’t know exactly where Brittney Griner is, if only because she’s not home. As she begins a shocking – even by Russian standards – sentence of nine years in prison, her health and whereabouts remain a mystery. We know she’s in the IK-2 penal colony in Mordovia, but that’s not particularly helpful given that Mordovia is known as “Russia”Land of prisons. In the snow-covered and swampy area about 250 miles southeast of Moscow, there are about two dozen huge prisons. Its “penal colony” could be one of these.

Mordovia’s prisons are notorious, with locals expressing shock that someone of Griner’s international fame would be held there. Penal colony Known for racism and homophobiawhich leaves Greiner’s fate anyone’s guess.

More details about life in these prisons have emerged, and They fear. Nadia Tolkonnikova of the social work collective Pussy Riot spent two years in Mordovia, and told MSNBC it’s a labor camp where prisoners are expected to work 16 hours a day. She said that “beatings and torture” were common. Medicare hardly exists. And in an awful twist, their jobs are to sew police and army uniforms, and literally mend the clothes of their jailers. International observers have no idea about Griner’s special circumstances, or even if her bed could fit her six-foot-eight-inch frame.

This is, of course, terrifying, as WNBA family members try to enhance the conditions in which Griner lives. But Griner thinks so, according to her wife, Cheryl are forgotten And that once it is forgotten, it will not be a source of concern for this country or the Biden administration. The public buzz for Griner’s return outside of the WNBA and NBA has also not really gone up, and the reasons are clear. As longtime bestselling sportswriter John Feinstein chirpI wish I could say I’m amazed at the lack of empathy — and downright anger — directed at Brittney Grenier. She’s committed a minor crime and is in a Russian penal colony. But because she’s not white, male, or straight, a lot of people don’t care or are happy. Sad. .”

It is sad that Greiner becomes yet another culture war totem in contrast to the wrongfully imprisoned American citizen whose release should be widely demanded. Instead, both the anti-drug law and order crowd and the right-wing “Putin cult and Russian despotism” crowd want to see her punished for no other reason than her identity and her politics. They point out that Griner protested during the national anthem and wore T-shirts in solidarity with Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky. Because Griner practiced such rhetoric, she is somehow not really American and somehow deserves that kind of punishment. trump insulted Griner, who opens the door for his followers to do the same. As has been said by many, if this were Tom Brady or Derek Jeter in a concentration camp for nine years, anger would become an unholy religion. Or like Michael Eric Dyson pointed out“This black woman, if it were anyone else – even a straight black woman would have more support than a straight black woman with a black wife.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken explained that the official position of the Biden administration is that “Russia is unjustly holding Britney… Securing her release is our priority.” According to Blinken, Russia was not negotiating in good faith and seemed to take pleasure in Grainer hanging over the administration’s head. This is exactly why we need to keep pushing for Griner’s release. Paul WhelanAll prisoners are locked outside. It’s almost all we can do – but not entirely. We must also relate the Griner’s plight to this country’s barbaric laws on cannabis possession, which, despite the spread of legalized marijuana in state after state, still keep thousands behind bars. These are people like Griner who deserve to have their sentence canceled immediately. If Biden announces such a plan, it will give him a stronger moral leg to stand on the demand for Greener’s release. He could have done this not only as a protest against Russia’s corrupt criminal justice system, but also as a result of reforming our corrupt criminal justice system. Such an effort would keep Greener’s name in the news and remind her that she wasn’t forgotten.

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