Seven Days in Solitary [7/14/13]

by | July 14, 2013

solitary_confinement_cell_auschwitz_13The 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.

•  According to the tally kept by The Miami Herald, 81 of the 166 men held captive at Guantanamo are now hunger-striking, with 45 being force-fed and three hospitalized. The New York Times reports that, while a federal judge ruled that she had no power to order the military to halt the force-feeding of a detainee, the judge urged President Obama to address the hunger strike.

•  MSNBC reports on the use of isolation in U.S. prisons, stating that “[s]olitary confinement is not a punishment only the most hardened and dangerous criminals have to endure. In the United States, more than 81,000 people are being held in isolation cells, sometimes for years on end.”

•  The Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC) and Jails Action Coalition announce that activists in New York are participating in a rolling fast “to express their solidarity with the thousands who are on hunger strike at Pelican Bay and other California prisons.” The fast began on July 8, on the same day as the California hunger strike, and will continue as long as the prison hunger strike continues. Solitary Watch reports on the hunger strike here and here.

•  Following the launch of the mass prison hunger strike in the state of California, ProPublica reports on the issue of force-feeding on U.S. soil, stating that “[a]s lawmakers call for an end to the force-feeding of Guantanamo detainees, the California strike serves as a reminder: inmates on U.S. soil can ultimately be given the same treatment.”

•  In a recent piece on the ACLU’s blog, Raphael Sperry, President of Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, writes on the meaning of the prison hunger strikes from the perspective of an architect. Sperry writes, “Frankly, there are some buildings that never should have been built – buildings that constitute human rights violations by their very existence… Prisons intended for prolonged solitary confinement should also never be built.”

•   Democracy Now! reports on the statewide prison hunger strike in California, stating that hunger strike participants are calling for an end to long-term solitary confinement, improved food quality and increased access to education programs and healthcare services. Guest Shane Bauer discusses inhumane prison conditions “from California to Iran.” 

•  The Nation reports on the mass hunger strike in California, launched July 8 by tens of thousands of people incarcerated throughout the state, noting that hunger strike participants are calling for an end to prolonged solitary confinement and inhumane conditions in prison. 

•  Los Angeles Times covers reports of retaliation by corrections officials following the launch of the California prison hunger strike. According to the story, “State prisoners said Wednesday evening that corrections officials are threatening to search their cells, seize their food stashes and possibly move them to solitary confinement if they continue their meal strike.”

•  National Radio Project reports on solitary confinement in a show featuring firsthand accounts of life in solitary confinement from nine formerly incarcerated people who describe “what it’s like not to talk to or touch another person, for years at a time.”

•  The Colorado Independent reports that prison officials in Colorado acknowledge that the murder of corrections chief Tom Clements is connected to solitary confinement policies. The article states, “If nothing else, Clements’ death is more evidence that solitary confinement isn’t just an abstract ethical and legal question about torture and the ‘evolving standards of human decency’ as defined by the 8th Amendment. It is, as Clements argued, an issue of immediate public safety.”


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