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Brittney Griner’s Plight Reveals The Hypocrisy Of Carceral State

President Joe Biden announced Brittney Griner’s return on the White House grounds on THURSDAY MORNING, stating, “I’m proud that today we have made one more family whole again.” However, among the millions of families rendered incomplete by the American carceral state, many will not share his patriotism.

Biden pardoned and sent convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout to Russia as part of a “prisoner swap” to secure Griner’s freedom. She returned to the United States after a nine-month nightmare that began when a basketball player in Russia to compete in one of the country’s basketball leagues was held at a Russian airport for possessing hashish oil cartridges. Throughout 2022, her arrest and subsequent nine-year sentence were widely criticized by government officials, activists, fellow athletes, entertainers, and President Joe Biden, who in August termed her punishment “unacceptable” and requested her “immediate release.”

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The millions of American citizens who believe that Griner‘s release is a positive move are represented by his statement. It’s easy for him and other Americans to lay a finger on Putin, but we’re not doing enough to fix our criminal justice system’s flaws.

Americans were appalled by Griner’s predicament in a distant Russian correctional colony where no one knew where she was. She endured “tedious manual work, poor hygiene, and lack of access to medical care.” However, similar violations of human rights exist inside the American jail system. Brittney Griner’s incarceration was national news, although it would have been amplified even more if she weren’t a Black queer woman.

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However, the American criminal justice system’s failings are frequently viewed as a minor issue compared to international affairs, mass shootings, and Oscar slaps. Few currently incarcerated individuals have Griner’s blend of fame and campaigning, yet their families still adore them. Rapper YNW Melly has disclosed that he is being subjected to “mistreatment, discrimination, and misuse of authority” and “mental and emotional abuse” at Florida’s Broward County Jail.

We may never know the scope of what Griner faced throughout her unlawful detention, which lasted nearly ten months. A 6-foot-9, Black, queer woman was held captive in a country that has just extended anti-LGBTQ laws and has a legal system in which almost every defendant is found guilty regardless of intent, prior history, or proof.

The desperation that Griner’s wife, family, and so many people who love her must have felt frequently, considering how terrified and alone she must have felt, was tragic.

Thursday morning’s sighting of Cherelle Griner and President Biden, coupled with the knowledge that the U.S. administration had negotiated her return home, was the antithesis of what had been expected.
We are currently unaware of Griner’s physical and mental condition. She has endured an unfathomable tragedy and will require time to heal and recuperate. The good news is that the process can begin immediately.

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According to reports, the Biden administration attempted to trade convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout for former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan and Griner. However, Russia was unwilling to make such a transfer. But, as Whelan’s family admitted, once it became evident that Russia would either agree to trade Griner for Bout or no deal, the administration made the correct decision: one American home was preferable to none.

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