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.
• Lance Tapley of The Portland Phoenix provides readers with a look inside Maine State Prison’s Special Management Unit, which he describes as “a physical manifestation of the banality of evil.”
• In a must-read story reporting on the abuse of isolation in U.S. prisons, GQ states that “[s]olitary confinement has become the United States’ next great human-rights scandal.”
• In a segment featured on Katie, Katie Couric talks with death row exoneree Anthony Graves about his 18 years time on Texas’ death row, 12 of which he spent in solitary confinement.
• AlterNet reports on sentences to solitary confinement in the state of California, where people are held in prolonged isolation for months, years, even decades, writing that “the only evidence needed to get someone thrown in solitary is a tattoo, letter, photo or piece of political material.”
• The American Public Health Association (APHA) adopts a new policy statement opposing solitary confinement, asking corrections officials to “discontinue solitary confinement as a punishment and to create alternatives for prisoners living with mental and chronic illness.”
• In The Atlantic, Andrew Cohen reports on a hearing held by the Senate Judiciary Committee on “oversight” of the federal Bureau of Prisons. The senators posed a few tepid questions on solitary confinement to BOP chief Charles Samuels, but nothing in the way of “true accountability and transparency,” Cohen writes.
• According to Jeff Kaye, writing for Firedoglake’s “The Dissenter,” A task force of medical, legal, and ethics experts has denounced portions of the Army Field Manual on interrogations as abusive and torturous. These promote the use of prolonged solitary confinement, along with sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation, “dietary and environmental manipulation,” and “the exploitation of fear.”
• The Los Angeles Times offers a profile of a formerly incarcerated Berkeley student struggling with a long-term–and possibly permanent–effects of spending eight years in solitary confinement.
• Live from Lockdown–a site that publishes “authentic & uncensored voices from inside maximum security & supermax prisons & control units”–sends a message about what’s really happening with regard to soltiary confinement inside federal prisons:
@lockdownlive Comrades are happy 2 hear of talk around #solitary but are quick 2 point out- inside it appears no one cares & things are getting worse
@lockdownlive For example, in all the real deal fed spots, not Camp Cupcake, #solitary aint solitary any more
@lockdownlive Now picture 2 and 3 people in a 5 x 9 cell 23 hours or more a day, yea we might be out of #solitary but shit aint get better