Seven Days in Solitary [4.12.13]
The following roundup features noteworthy news, reports, and opinions on solitary confinement from the past week that have not been covered in other Solitary Watch posts.
• Developments surrounding the systemic failures in California prisons were covered heavily by the media. Most recently, the Los Angeles Times reported on California judges’ threat to find Gov. Jerry Brown in contempt of court if he and the state do not “quickly produce a plan to remove thousands of convicts from California’s packed prisons.”
• In a strongly worded editorial, Bloomberg View denounces on the inhumane practice of solitary confinement in the U.S., stating that its use in “prisons and detention centers has broken the bounds of reason and decency.”
• The Toronto Star reports on the high-profile inquest into the death of Ashley Smith, the teen who died in solitary confinement in Canada. Lawyers representing Smith’s family and advocacy groups “want to ensure the inquest leads to significant reductions in the use of segregation in Canadian prisons, and a ban on it for mentally ill offenders.”
• Susan Greene, writing in the Colorado Independent, reports on a recent statement by fellow Colorado State Penitentiary prisoner Troy Anderson, that Evan Ebel’s suicide note shows he was “‘ruined’ by solitary and ‘bent on revenge.'”
• Writing on The Hill’s Congress blog, Ian Kysel, author of Growing Up Locked Down, urges the U.S. government to ban the use of solitary confinement on children in federal custody. While solitary is harmful to adults, Kysel writes, “the potential damage to children, who do not have the maturity and resilience of an adult and are at a particularly vulnerable, formative stage of life, is much greater.”
• The ACLU of Colorado calls on the state’s Department of Human Services (DHS) to end the solitary confinement of kids in Colorado’s El Pueblo Residential Treatment Center.
• The New York World reports on the torments experienced by Rasaun Bullock during his 49 months in solitary confinement on Rikers Island.
• The Investigative Writing Workshop reports on the government’s review of solitary confinement practices in immigration centers in the U.S. The article referenced new government data (first revealed by the New York Times) showing that “about 300 immigrant detainees are in solitary in the top centers around the country while they wait for a finding of their legal status.”
• Guantanamo detainee lawyer Cori Crider tells The Huffington Post that his client, Adel Bin Ahmed Bin Ibrahim Hkim, made a failed attempt to kill himself in solitary confinement.
• Democracy Now! speaks with animal rights activist Andrew Stepanian, formerly imprisoned in the federal Communication Management Unit in Marion, Illinois, on “eco-terrorism” charges, about the secretive prison units as well as the use of solitary confinement to suppress prisoners’ contact with the media and the outside world.
• ReasonTV reports on the two-month long solitary confinement of anarchists Katherine “KteeO” Olejnik and Matt Duran at Sea-Tac Federal Detention Center in Washington state for refusing to testify on “acts of vandalism during a May Day protest last year.”
• WTHI-TV reports on Professor Laura Bates’ work at Indiana prison Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, where for the last 15 years she has taught Shakespeare to people held in solitary confinement. In a similar story, KOAT News reports on a program at the New Mexico Penitentiary which provides education to people in solitary confinement, giving them the opportunity to leave prison with a GED.
• Shawn Griffith describes his experience in solitary confinement during the almost 24 years he spent in Florida prisons. The article, published by Crime Magazine, also discusses the different types of solitary confinement, as well as alternatives to its use.
• Metro and the Amsterdam News both report on New York City Councilman Daniel Dromm’s plans to introduce two bills regulating the practice of solitary confinement in New York City jails (view their stories here and here). As stated in the Metro article, “One bill calls on the Department of Correction to file comprehensive reports on solitary confinement, and the second calls for an end to the practice of putting people returning to jail into solitary confinement to complete time owed from their previous period of incarceration.”
• The National Law Journal reports on the federal government’s abusive use of isolation on immigrant detainees who are gay, stating that detainees suspected of being gay are held in solitary until their hearings.
• The National Immigrant Justice Center reports that over 100 organizations are calling on New York Senator Charles Schumer to address solitary confinement and other humans right abuses in the U.S. immigration detention system.
• The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) calls for all member nations to abolish the use of solitary confinement on children and persons with mental disabilities.
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Reading the principles of Anthropology for a project that I am in the middle of….The books authors are: Chapple & Coon, which was copyrighted in 1944 by Henry Holt and Company,Inc.(October, 1947) issue date.
It is stated within this publication that “solitary confinement is, in the long run, the most painful of punishments; among religious ascetics, it is the most rigorous of self-imposed ordeals.” (Pg.41).
If this was said during this period, almost 69 years ago, it does appear that the ones building these kinds of prisons do not care, because perhaps it is for a study in the arena of Behavior Modification for the purpose of military study and teaching.