Justice: Too Cruel for the Cruel

At Arkansas' Tucker prison farm, "the Tucker telephone" was a fearsome means of communicating the superintendent's displeasure. It consisted of an old-fashioned crank-phone apparatus that was wired to the genitals and one of the big toes of recalcitrant prisoners. When the crank was spun, the recipient of the message was shocked nearly unconscious. James Bruton, the superintendent who designed and used that device, resigned in 1966 when state officials began a series of investigations of brutality in the Arkansas prisons (TIME, Feb. 9, 1968). Last week Bruton pleaded no contest to charges that he violated prisoners' civil rights by...

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