"Outsourcing Punishment" and the Privatization of Justice

It’s common knowledge, at this point, that the¬†move toward private prisons has made conditions in the American corrections system even more dismal than it was before, as private contractors cut costs and services¬†in order to maximize profits. But even more than this, outsourcing punishment¬†to the private sector¬†constitutes a privatization of justice itself.¬†That’s the point made […]

Solitary Confinement Is a "Challenge for Medical Ethics"

Anyone interested in solitary confinement should¬†be aware of this article in the¬†most recent¬†issue of the¬†Journal of the American Academy¬†of Psychiatry and the¬†Law: “Solitary Confinement and Mental Illness in U.S. Prisons: A Challenge for Medical Ethics,” by Jeffrey L. Metzner, MD and Jamie Fellner, Esq.¬†Metzner is a respected forensic psychiatrist and professor at the University of […]

Obama’s First Military Tribunal: Child Soldier Tortured at Bagram and Gitmo

¬†Today, the Obama Administration will begin its first trial of a prisoner held at Guantanamo Bay. The defendant is Omar Khadr, a Canadian national who was 15 when his alleged¬†crime¬†took place¬†eight years ago. Since that time, Khadr has been abused, threatened, and held is solitary confinement for long periods at both Bagram and¬†Gitmo. Daphne Eviatar […]

Voices from Solitary: Life on Level 3, Texas Death Row

In many prisons, there are different “levels” of solitary confinement,¬†with differences in their living conditions, degree of isolation, and the¬†handful of¬†“privileges”–visits, phone calls, personal hygenine products and reading materials, and in some cases even blankets–afforded to prisoners there. At Lousiana’s Angola prison, for example, there are three levels of solitary confinement: The¬†long-term solitary¬†isolation unit¬†is called […]

Voices from Solitary: Gang "Validation" and Permanent Isolation in California Prisons

In prisons throughout the country, perceived gang membership is one of the leading reasons for placement in solitary confinement.¬†In California alone,¬†hundreds of prisoners are in Security Housing Units (SHUs) because they have been “validated” as gang members. The validation procedure used by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)¬†employs such¬†criteria as tattoos, reading materials, […]

"Epidemic" of Suicides in Massachusetts Prisons

On July 15,¬†an inmate¬†hanged himself in his cell at the Old Colony Correctional Center in Bridgewater, bringing the number¬†of suicides in Massachusetts state prisons this year¬†to eight. The rate of suicides, which so far¬†averages one a month, is four times the national average. According to the Boston Globe, prisoner advocates’ “calls for an urgent response […]

Pennsylvania Legislators Hold Hearings on Solitary Confinement

On Monday, members of the¬†Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee hosted public hearings on solitary confinement in Yeadon, a western suburb of Philadelphia. As reported in the local Delaware County Daily Times¬†(and nowhere else): A public hearing on the effectiveness of solitary confinement in state prisons drew cheers from the audience for two former inmates and jeers […]