The Struggle of the Deaf in Prison

By BitcoDavid

Image: Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia

Deep beneath Colorado’s Cheyenne Mountain – recently renamed Mt. BitcoDavid – lies the DeafInPrison.com complex. Here, thousands of worker bees  – wearing black suits, dark sunglasses and coiled thingies in their ears – drive around in blacked-out Chevy Suburbans, and labor tirelessly to bring you the best in Internet content.

Recently they received a communique from the Silent Grapevine, requesting a supporter contribution. Here is BitcoDavid’s response to that request:

The Struggle of the Deaf in Prison

By
BitcoDavid

All three elements of interaction with the Justice system, directly affect the Deaf in far different ways than they do the Hearing.

1) Arrest: The goal of police during an arrest is to take physical custody of a suspect. Their only concern is discovering hidden weapons, and preventing escape. There is little opportunity for communication during this phase, and an ability of the suspect to follow orders is essential. When a cop holding his gun, yells “get down or I’ll shoot,” you need to get down. If you can’t understand that command, you’re in immediate danger. Many Deaf sacrifice their Constitutional rights, due to lack of understanding the Miranda warning. A written card containing the Miranda rights is useless, because many Deaf have limited reading ability.

The interrogation phase of arrest is equally fraught with communicational failings. Many Deaf, in order to fit in, or to expedite an uncomfortable situation, will respond to questioning by smile and nod. This leads Hearing to believe that the Deaf understand what is going on, even when they don’t. Finally, out of fear and exhaustion, the suspects will often confess to things they didn’t do. After 12, 24, possibly even 48 hours of grueling questions – none of which they can hear or understand – they confess.

2) Court proceedings and trial: Here, an interpreter is essential, but is often denied. An example is the now 33-year-old case of Felix Garcia, the man that DeafInPrison.com is working to pardon. On numerous occasions, the judge would ask Felix if he could hear. For reasons that he himself isn’t completely clear on, he would answer in the affirmative. In the end, all they did was turn the speakers all the way up, causing Felix great pain, but not aiding at all in his ability to hear the accusations and evidence against him.

If a Deaf defendant is at all likely to have the benefit of a qualified ASL interpreter, it is during the trial phase. However, interpreters cost money that states are loath to spend. They will invariably try to find cost cutting methods of getting things done. Why add to an already expensive trial if you can prove that no interpreter is required?

3) Incarceration: It is here that the Deaf suffer most. It is here as well, that competent interpreters are most necessary, and least often made available. There have been cases reported of Deaf inmates not reporting for Count, because the order is verbal. Failure to report for Count can result in serious punishment such as Solitary Confinement. The same situation exists with Mess. Often, Deaf inmates go without being fed, because they are unaware that it’s time to eat.

The biggest problem for the Deaf in America’s prisons is violence and rape. Deaf people cannot hear whispers and muttering. They can’t hear people coming up behind them, and they have difficulty in reporting such activities. They struggle receiving medical care, because they can’t hear the doctors and nurses, therefore may not be as able to take part in their therapy, or in filling prescriptions, as can their Hearing counterparts. Conversely, they are less able to describe symptoms or to otherwise aid in their diagnoses.

The number of prisons and jails that offer onsite interpreters for these situations is relatively small – even in these days of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Furthermore, even if interpreters are available, the inmate must request one before the appointment.

Guards often see Deaf inmates as troublemakers. Nothing gets under a Corrections Officer’s skin, as much as a special request or need. When you’re in charge of 1000 or more individuals, the last thing you want to hear is inmate XYZ needs an interpreter.

We can address and eliminate these issues with a small amount of effort.

Every police cruiser in this country is equipped with onboard computers and WiFi. Police should learn how to use video relay via the Internet. Deaf suspects can be brought to the cruiser, where they would be able to offer a defense against arrest, and at the same time, be informed as to why they’re being arrested and what is expected of them.

Detectives need to conduct interrogations with interpreters present. If costs and availability were an issue, again, Internet interpreters and video relay would do the trick.

The responsibility for determining a defendant’s ability to aid in his own defense should no longer be the purview of judges and attorneys. The court should consult with an audiologist if there is any question as to a defendant’s competency.

Prisons and jails would need to make three significant changes. First, interpreters should be full-time on all shifts, and available. Inmates shouldn’t have to go through official channels to request an interpreter. Secondly, institutions need to house Deaf inmates in separate dorms, fully equipped to meet their needs. Finally, Deaf and bilingual (English/ASL) guards would be greatly beneficial.

Lastly, of course, if ASL were offered in all public schools, colleges and trade schools, individuals – law enforcement and otherwise – would be able to communicate with the Deaf, and would be able to reap the many advantages of learning Sign.

Image: Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia

My gratitude and appreciation to Silent Grapevine for this opportunity.

Also, don’t forget that the #KeepASLinSchools video is done and can be seen here and here. Felix’s case is garnering much needed attention, thanks to the efforts of Sachs Media Group who is still maintaining their petition, here. Please take a minute to sign – even if you’ve already signed ours. It is critically important. And thank you all, for your continued support.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

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Kids in Adult Jails: Almost Half States Stopping Practice

By BitcoDavid

Juvenile Girl in Prison by Richard Ross. Photo credit http://www.businessinsider.com/richard-ross-juvenile-in-justice-2012-10

The artist in me just loves this picture. It so beautifully expresses the waste and futility of long term confinement of minors. Juvenile Girl in Prison by Richard Ross. Photo credit
Business Insider

The Campaign for Youth Justice just released a report that states that a number of legislative bodies in America have revisited the concept of warehousing teen offenders in adult facilities. America detains 70,000 youths per day — WaPo. There are now numerous bodies of evidence that this practice not only keeps the offenders from completing their education, but actually adds to the likelihood that they will grow up to be career criminals.

Of those 70,000, a large number are housed in adult facilities – with predatory, hardened adults. The suicide rate for these teens is 36 times greater than that of minors housed in juvenile facilities — NYT.

Psychologists now know that the Human brain doesn’t completely develop until the mid-twenties. While it is true that young people are capable of committing heinous crimes, and that punishment – as a factor of rehabilitation – is necessary, punishing a child by the same guidelines as one punishes an adult, is unfair to both the child, and to society as a whole. We will never know the contributions that may have been made by bad kids who turned their lives around.

Kids enter adult facilities, scared and unprepared. They are likely to get into fights, or in some other way, break rules. This results in solitary confinement. Numerous studies show that even the strongest of adults are mentally unequipped to deal with the privations of solitary. Undeveloped teenage brains cannot withstand the agony of this form of punishment. The kids come out scarred and damaged – if they come out at all.

Another problem with housing juveniles in adult facilities is that of rape, and other forms of sexual brutality. Excuse my bluntness here, but the simple fact is, young people are a prized commodity in the sexual marketplace within American prisons. Many are immediately sold into sexual slavery, and none of them have developed the skills to be able to protect themselves in those situations. They walk through the doors as victims in waiting, and are immediately preyed upon.

Often this leads to a cyclic abuse state, where the minor – upon release – becomes an abuser. I am reminded of a story once relayed to me. A young man was placed in what was at that time a juvenile facility. The initiation process involved the other inmates taking turns at kicking him in the genitals. The young man’s testicles ruptured and he ended up requiring medical castration. When a new inmate arrived, did the protagonist of my story refrain from imposing the same tragedy on the new boy? No. On the contrary, his fellow inmates were actually shocked at his savagery. The abused had become an abuser.

We have a lot of problems in America, and crime is certainly one of them. Victims rights groups are correct in pointing out that innocent people suffer at the hands of offenders. I know of a case in which a retired couple were robbed and killed in their home. The offender, a juvenile, wanted their car. The heartless brutality of the incident jolted the neighborhood. Many believe that the teenage perpetrator deserves nothing less than life in prison.

I can’t agree. Taking nothing from the suffering of the elderly couple, I believe that this teenager could have been helped – and could have turned his life around. Perhaps he would have become a social worker or a volunteer. Perhaps he would have felt that he owed that much to his 2 victims – an atonement. As it was, he became yet another male whore in an adult facility – where he died by his own hand.

Below, I have embedded the entire report. My appreciation to the Campaign for Youth Justice, the WaPo and the NYT for help with this article.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

When Death Comes as a Kindness

By BitcoDavid

Herman Wallace is best known as one of the Angola 3. Sites like Prisonmovement’s Weblog and Moorbey’z Blog have spent years trying to get him released from solitary confinement in Louisiana. Early on Friday, October 4th, Herman Wallace passed away, after a long battle with cancer. He was 71 years old.

Wallace was a writer, an artist and the figurehead of a cause. He spent 41 years in Angola’s solitary confinement.

Since January of 1974, Wallace has not seen the sun, experienced the joy of conversation or felt the heat of a woman. He lived what is for many of us, a lifetime, in a 6′ by 9′ concrete cell.

Mr. Wallace had originally been convicted on an armed robbery charge, and was housed in general population. During a prison riot, a corrections officer – Brent Miller – was stabbed and killed. Wallace and Albert Woodfox were convicted of the stabbing, and sentenced to life in solitary. There, they were confined with another inmate, Robert King. These three men became the subject of an Amnesty International report in 2011. Documentarist Vadim Jean directed the film In the Land of the Free, about the plight of the Angola 3. To the very end, Wallace swore his innocence, and both his family and his lawyer believed that the 3 were wrongfully convicted.

Most recent photo of Felix with Pat Bliss.  Image credit Pat Bliss

Most recent photo of Felix with Pat Bliss.
Image credit Pat Bliss

Wallace was released 3 days before his death, in what can only be described as a real life Dostoevsky novel. No justice, no closure – merely a glimmer of hope before the bitter end.

Wallace was born on Oct. 13, 1941. He leaves behind, five sisters.

Time marches on, and there is an urgency in peoples’ lives. If we don’t help people like Wallace now, when they need our help, it may be too late when we finally get around to doing the right thing by them. I bring this up because of Felix Garcia. The man I see in this picture has aged markedly. Felix has spent over 30 years, wrongfully incarcerated. If we don’t help him now, it may soon be too late.

After 41 years in the deepest recesses of Angola’s hellish solitary confinement, and the long-term agony of the most horrible of diseases, Mr. Wallace must have been glad to go. Surely for him, death came as a kindness.

My gratitude to the New York Times for help with this article.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

An Interview With Prison Author Glenn Langohr

By Glenn Langohr

As most of your readers already know, you’ve spent some time in prison but have now turned your life around.  Can you tell us what happened to land you there and how your change/rehabilitation came about?

Two good parents raised me, but they divorced when I was 12 years old. Being a momma’s boy, I was brokenhearted when I didn’t go with her. I called my dad out for ruining everything and that didn’t work out well for me. I ran away. I got into selling drugs. The law interrupted me, many times.

I spent 10 years in some of California’s worst prisons with 4 years in solitary confinement for riots and investigations.

The prison system didn’t rehabilitate me, writing did. California has 35 state prisons and they are violent and gang riddled. While “doing time” it is all about surviving. I started waking up at 4 am to write before surviving another possible riot took over my being. Eventually, I built up enough momentum writing books to know in my heart that I had a new life.

You are obviously quite (rightly) dedicated to highlighting the plight of prisoners in the US correctional system (as well as the abuses therein).  Your personal experiences aside, anyone who has had dealings with it can understand why this is such an important cause to you, but most people don’t have any such experience. How would you respond to critics who would argue that prisoners get what they deserve – do the crime, do the time types?

First I would say that some crimes are worse than others. I think we are too easy on Child Molesters and Rapists. But, are we the Leaders of the Free World? No, we are the leaders of the incarcerated world. In California alone we have 35 state prisons that are bursting at the seams, with more people behind bars than any other country other than China! [Editor's note: Actually, while China does have a larger total prison population, we more than double theirs, per capita.] Why? Because we are locking humans in prison who are addicted to drugs, or who are below the poverty level, and therefore undesirable. That could be your kid, your mother, and your neighbor.

In prison, that addiction is bred into an affliction much harder to escape, where gangs are the solution, spitting out tattooed-down, displaced humans, without any job placement or anywhere to live.

So really, most of the prisoners are not getting what they deserve, because we look at drug addiction like alcoholism these days – like a disease. They need treatment, not prison. I am working on adapting one of my books, My Hardest Step, into a TV show about Addiction and Recovery. One of the girls who did a casting call has been to prison. It didn’t help. A drug treatment center did work. She has been sober for over 2 years and has her son back in her life.

What do you see as the way forward in terms of prison reform?  How does this come out in your books?

Prison reform isn’t going to happen until there isn’t enough tax money to keep the current system going. I’m just being real. The Politicians and Media promote the need for prisons to keep the rest of us safe. To get elected, you have to be tough on crime. To stay elected, you have to be tough on crime. This starts with the D.A. In one of my high profile drug cases, the head D.A. at the time had aspirations to become the Attorney General for the U.S., and for that to even be a possibility, he couldn’t look weak on crime, so he made sure he had a 99% conviction record. Ten years later, his son is doing time for heroin addiction.

My books take you inside of prison survival between the gangs and politics and what life looks like Inside.

If real prison reform were to happen, it would have to be extreme. How about work programs instead of prison? How about prisoners actually learning how to get a job while in prison with computer training, resume training, job placement, housing placement and a real chance upon release?

How about only sending people to prison for violent crimes and giving the rest programs for treatment and self-help?

It is also clear that you are a man of faith.  What role has that faith played in your work?  How does it come out in your characters?  How is it part of your ideas for reforming the prison system?

Thank you for bringing this up. I read the Bible in prison every day and found hope that God restores the hopeless.

My characters are divided into two groups, those who are trying to find their conscience, and those who aren’t, with a good cop verses bad cop theme as well.

In my books, my main character chases redemption by knowing he has to help other lost souls find hope and a new life away from prison and the drug war, yet just surviving takes almost all of his attention.

How have you been able to partner your efforts with research and/or faith-based organizations to spread the word on your mission?

Not that well. The church I attend is amazing because of a few things. The worship band is out of this world. Our teaching Pastor is amazing also. He loves my books. But they and most churches don’t want to face their own issues, drug addiction in their family and their community.

My writing has progressed from 10-Drug War and Prison books that are in Print, Kindle and Audio Book, to 4 Prayer Books, to my most recent self help books. My Hardest Step is based on the Twelve Step Programs.

My best selling Prison Book is Underdog, available at  Amazon. Click here to see a 2 minute video about it.

Most, if not all, of your books are based on real-life events.  How much did you write while you were still in prison?  How do you deal with the possibility of getting sued by people who may recognize themselves, particularly the more well-known you and your work become?

I spent 7 years writing my first book, Roll Call, in prison – on the back of my trial transcript paperwork. Once out of prison, I turned down a couple of big publishers to self publish. I got a review from Kirkus Discoveries Nielson Media out of New York, that blew my mind.  “A harrowing, down-and-dirty depiction–sometimes reminiscent of Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic–of America’s war on drugs, by former dealer and California artist Langohr. Locked up for a decade on drugs charges and immersed in both philosophical tomes and modern pulp thrillers…”

As for being sued for writing such raw and penetrating content, I use this quote in TV interviews: “I paint with the true colors of life on a fictional landscape to protect the innocent and the not so innocent.”

My newest Prison book, The Art of War: A Memoir of Life in Prison, is the most controversial yet. While I was finishing up my sentence at a hard-core prison on the California border of Mexico, there was so much violence, you just wouldn’t believe half of it. Being a White inmate where over 80% of the population is Mexican or Black, it wasn’t easy. We had a prison guard who gave us information about other inmates, one of which was a notorious “Child Molester”. You’ll have to read the book to see what happened. It is on sale for 99 cents, in Kindle format, at Amazon.

What one thing you would like for our readers to know about you?  Your work?

“Jesus is my landlord.” I got that quote from a homeless woman who told it to the police who were harassing her for living in her car. They stopped dead in their tracks and let her go. I used that quote in one of my books. God bless you.

“I went from obsessively pacing my cell to realizing that if I find a way to write what’s in my head, I can find a way out of this hole.” — Glenn Langohr

Excellent Interview Video on Solitary from WGBH

By BitcoDavid

The following video comes from Boston’s WGBH TV.

The video presents a number of interesting facts regarding solitary confinement, including that it’s expensive, and poses a public safety threat. We know it’s torture, and we know that it destroys minds and crushes souls – but many argue that prisoners deserve no better. Well, this video provides a counter argument that even the staunchest crime and punishment type, can understand.

Simply that it costs us taxpayers up to 3 times as much to break men in solitary, as it does to house them humanely. Further, since people do occasionally get released from prison, it does society little good to create psychotics – and then send them back to the public.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

26 Minutes in the SHU

By BitcoDavid

Much thanks and respect to Moorbey who originally posted this – well originally for us, anyway. It was actually posted on YouTube by KQED News. It was shot by the security camera in one of the exercise pens at Pelican Bay. I post it here with the following nugget of food for thought. This video is 26 minutes long. If you find it terminally monotonous and boring – think what 10 years must be like.

Peace. Out.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Saving Lives with Shakespeare

Jean TrounstineBy Jean Trounstine

Can you imagine teaching Shakespeare to men in solitary confinement?  And by that I mean men who are actually locked in 23 out of 24 hours a day behind metal doors with only a slit to see through into the hallway?  And along with that, try picturing a woman who sits in that hallway, coaching those men as they speak Shakespeare’s lines aloud talking to other men who they cannot see?

Image: Jean Trounstine

Image: Jean Trounstine

This is the mission of Laura Bates, an amazing woman who is an associate professor at Indiana University and in 2003 began teaching in Wabash Correctional in Indiana.  In an article for an Indiana State U publication, Bates says “We are the only Shakespeare program in the segregated unit in solitary confinement anywhere in the world….Never before attempted….never duplicated either.”

The process according to the article:  “Two officers escort each man into an individual cell in a separate unit inside segregated housing. Bates, as shown above, sits in the small hallway between eight individual cells with the imprisoned men sitting behind metal doors peering, talking and listening through open rectangular cuff ports.”

I met Laura Bates when we presented together along with others who had used Shakespeare behind bars and I was knocked out by her work.  While I worked for ten years at Framingham Women’s Prison in Massachusetts and directed eight plays with women in the regular population (See Shakespeare Behind-Bars: The Power of Drama in a Womens Prison), Laura worked exclusively with men in solitary.

The challenge is explored in a book just released, Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary With the Bard.  She focuses on one particular prisoner and hence the title.  Larry felt Shakespeare saved his life.

In her book, Bates says that Larry read all of Shakespeare’s works and she feels that some of his comments are as insightful as any she has received in or out of prison, teaching the Bard.  He eventually made it into the general population of the prison. She is currently compiling his comments into The Prisoner’s Guide to the Complete Works of Shakespeare.

Here is a snippet from the book, reprinted below with the author’s permission on amazon.com

Oh, man, this is my favorite freakin’ quote!”

What professor wouldn’t like to hear a student enthuse so much over a Shakespeare play—a Shakespeare history play, no less! And then to be able to flip open the two-thousand-page Complete Works of Shakespeare and find the quote immediately: “When that this body did contain a spirit, a kingdom for it was too small a bound”!

…“Act 5, scene 4,” my student informs me, again smacking the page with his enthusiastic fist. “Oh, man, that is crazy!”

Yes, this is crazy: I am sitting side-by-side with a prisoner who has just recently been allowed to join the general prison population after more than ten years in solitary confinement. We met three years prior, in 2003, when I created the first-ever Shakespeare program in a solitary confinement unit, and we spent three years   working together in that unit. Now we have received unprecedented permission to work together, alone, unsupervised, to create a series of Shakespeare workbooks for prisoners. Newton is gesticulating so animatedly that it draws the attention of an officer walking by our little classroom. He pops his head inside.

“Everything okay in here?” he asks.

“Just reading Shakespeare,” I reply.

He shakes his head and walks on.

“That is crazy!” Newton repeats, his head still in the book.

A record ten and a half consecutive years in solitary confinement, and he’s not   crazy, he’s not dangerous—he’s reading Shakespeare. And maybe, just maybe, it is because he’s reading Shakespeare that he is not crazy, or dangerous.

Many of the men Bates encountered committed violent offenses behind bars, and while solitary is extremely controversial as a way to help prisoners change their behavior, they are sent there as punishment, often for years. But no matter what you think of containing these people in cages, no prisoner is only their crime. Bates’s work points up the idea that to label people as un-redeemable belies our humanity. These men are not “the worst of the worst” as often referred to in article after article.  They are men who are also human beings indebted to the chance to turn their pain, loss, rage and deprivation into words.  Bravo.

Jean Trounstine is an author/editor of five published books, professor at Middlesex Community College and a prison activist. She worked at Framingham Women’s Prison for ten years where she directed eight plays; she published Shakespeare Behind Bars: The Power of Drama in a Women’s Prison about that work. She takes apart the criminal justice system brick by brick at www.bostonmagazine.com and blogs at “Justice with Jean” at www.jeantrounstine.com.  Follow her @justicewithjean.

Permalink: http://jeantrounstine.com/?p=966

H.P. Lovecraft Couldn’t Make This Up

By Pat Bliss

A 1934 issue of Weird Tales, the magazine in which first appeared H.P. Lovecraft's Gothic chiller, Rats in the Walls. Photo: Wikipedia

A 1934 issue of Weird Tales, the magazine in which first appeared, H.P. Lovecraft’s Gothic chiller, Rats in the Walls. Photo: Wikipedia

this is an excerpt from a 26 page letter that I received from a Deaf inmate. It was his story about going to medical, that I last posted. He is in solitary confinement now, for trying to help another inmate. Rather than going into all the details of that, I felt I wanted to share this particular portion of the letter with you.

Further, this place is infested with the mice and rats that I told you about before. In fact its more infested with mice and rats since the last time I told you about it. They have had time to breed. Its so full of mice and rats that you have to stay awake when the lights go out or they will actually crawl up on the bunk with you.

They [the cells] have foot lockers bolted to the walls that set higher then the bottom bunk that almost level with the top bunk that these mice and rats will climb up on, run along the foot lockers and jump off in the bunk where you are laying.

   

Splinter in the 2008 season of TMNT

Splinter in the 2008 season of TMNT (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Me and my cell partner stay up all night when the lights are out to see how many we can kill. We have rat killings. We will take one each of my boots which are heavy and will sit off on the bunk. Be real quiet. Wait for them to start coming in and see if we can hit them with a boot and kill them. So far I have gotten at least one each night. They are quick, I’ll say that for them. Hell, last night I thought I had two I got one then a little while later this one comes off in here. I throughed [throwed] the boot at him he turned sideways from where I hit him. About this time they [DOC] turned the lights on, he was only stunned. I picked up the boot went to hit him with it again. The SOB hunched up his back raised his front two paws and had the hair on this back standing straight up. I thought of Master Splinter the Rat off of Nija Turtles!!
  

Pat Bliss is a retired paralegal in criminal law. She continues to do legal work for indigent prisoner cases showing innocence. She is a Certified Community Chaplain, Certified as a volunteer for CISM (Crises Intervention Stress Management) and involved in community events.

LA DOJ in Email Blast, Angola 3 Never Held in Solitary

By BitcoDavid

English: Louisiana State Penitentiary entrance...

Louisiana State Penitentiary entrance (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DeafInPrison.com will always do its best to present both sides of any issue we cover. That of course, isn’t always possible, as commonly law enforcement tends to be quite close-mouthed about things. Not so, apparently, with the Louisiana Attorney General – James “Buddy” Caldwell. I got the following in my e-mail today, and wanted to share it with you. Here, in block quote format is the entire contents. This is a direct copy and paste of his e-mail. emphases are his.

Thank you for your interest in the ambush, savage attack and brutal murder of Officer Brent Miller at Louisiana State Penitentiary (LSP) on April 17, 1972. Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace committed this murder, stabbing and slicing Miller over 35 times.

Between the years 1967 and 1969 before coming to LSP the last time for armed robbery and aggravated escape, Albert Woodfox was in the streets of New Orleans and charged with numerous crimes, some of which, he was convicted.  Among those numerous charges are at least 6 separate, unresolved aggravated rapes and armed robberies.  Some of these victims were female patrons or waitresses who were raped during the late night or early morning robberies of bars in the New Orleans area.

NO court has ever ruled that these inmates are innocent of the murder of Officer Miller.  I have been prosecuting murders for the past 35 years as a District Attorney in Louisiana.  If these inmates would have been innocent, we would have never had any of these proceedings and I would have personally turned Woodfox loose.  The evidence against him is overpowering.   There are no flaws in our evidence and this case is very strong.  We feel confident that we will again prevail at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.  However, if we do not, we are fully prepared and willing to retry this murderer again.  Woodfox was indicted by two separate grand juries and unanimously convicted by two separate juries of his peers.  Wallace was indicted and unanimously convicted by a jury of his peers.

Contrary to popular lore, Woodfox and Wallace have never been held in solitary confinement while in the Louisiana penal system.  They have been held in protective cell units known as CCR.  These units were designed to protect inmates as well as correctional officers.  They have always been able to communicate freely with other inmates and prison staff as frequently as they want.  They have televisions on the tiers which they watch through their cell doors.  In their cells they can have radios and headsets, reading and writing materials, stamps, newspapers, magazines and books.  They also can shop at the canteen store a couple of times per week where they can purchase grocery and personal hygiene items which they keep in their cells.

These convicted murderers have an hour outside of their cells each day where they can exercise in the hall, talk on the phone, shower, and visit with the other 10 to 14 inmates on the tier.  At least three times per week they can go outside on the yard and exercise and enjoy the sun if they want.  This is all in addition to the couple of days set aside for visitations each week.

These inmates are frequently visited by spiritual advisors, medical personnel and social workers.  They have had frequent and extensive contact with numerous individuals from all over the world, by telephone, mail, and face-to-face personal visits.  They even now have email capability.  Contrary to numerous reports, this is not solitary confinement.

As you know, these convicted murderers filed a civil lawsuit alleging they have been denied due process and have been mistreated.  It is important to know that if they win this civil case they could possibly receive money and a change in their housing assignments.  This lawsuit WILL NOT result in their release from prison.

It is also important that you know that Woodfox and Wallace have not resided at LSP for the past several years.   Woodfox was transferred to David Wade Correctional Center on November 1, 2010 and Wallace was transferred to Elayn Hunt Correctional Center on March 19, 2009.

Let me be clear, Woodfox and Wallace are GUILTY and have NEVER been held in solitary confinement.  They are serving out the life sentences handed down by the unanimous jury verdicts for brutally and savagely murdering Officer Brent Miller.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Sincerely,

James D. “Buddy” Caldwell

Louisiana Attorney General

Take Action On This Issue

Albert Woodfox. Photo courtesy Amnesty Petition

Now, I’m not saying that I believe everything in this e-mail, nor do I think we should stop fighting for the Angola 3, Woodfox and Wallace, or the concept of solitary confinement on the whole. I just wanted you to get an opportunity to hear the argument from the other side.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Event: Webinar

By BitcoDavid

Here’s and event you may be interested in attending. Thu, Apr 18, 2013 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM EDT there will be a Webinar on Solitary Confinement in an Age of Mass Incarceration. It is being presented by NRCAT – the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

In this hour-long webinar, we will hear from leading policy experts with an overview of legislative efforts to end prolonged solitary confinement, including survivors of solitary confinement, and from members of the faith community who are engaged in efforts to end this destructive practice. The webinar will include information about causes of the dramatic expansion of the use of solitary confinement in the context of mass incarceration, and a description of recent reform successes and future opportunities for members of the faith community to be engaged.

Speakers will include:
- Mr. Anthony Graves, founder of Anthony Believes, who will share from his own experience of surviving sixteen years in solitary confinement in Texas before his conviction was overturned. Mr. Graves presented powerful testimony at the 2012 congressional hearing on the realities of solitary confinement experienced each day in U.S. prisons.
- Amy Fettig, Senior Staff Counsel for the ACLU’s National Prison Project
- Laura Markle Downton, Director of U.S. Prisons Policy and Program for NRCAT

You can register here.

I would like to extend my gratitude to Solitary Watch for bringing it to my attention. We have of course, listed it on our events page.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Interview with Moorbey

By BitcoDavid

Moorbey was generous enough to grant me a quick interview about his time on the Wrong Side of the Wall. His answers to my questions are presented intact – in his own unique voice.

BD: How old were you when you were arrested?

Moorbey: My very 1st arrest came at tha ripe ole age of 10 yearz ole. And my next arrest came at 18 yearz ole

Was it a first offense?

No it waz my second. [It should be noted that Moorbey's 1st offense was at age 10, making this his first adult offense. Normally, a juvenile's record is sealed at age 18. -- BD]

Did you have good legal representation? Did a private attorney provide that or was it a Public Defender? No lawyer at all?

My lawyer waz great it cost my parentz 13,000 dolla’z to be able to serve a 5 year sentence or get a cheaper lawyer an do a 10 to 12 year hit 4 my 1st adult run-in with l.a injustice shystem.

Where did you end up spending most of that time, and were you moved a lot?

California Men's Colony - Arial View. cdcr.ca.gov

California Men’s Colony – Arial View. cdcr.ca.gov

I went from tha county jail str8 to California men’z colony. I did tha whole nickel there 4 from my 1st day walking tha yard I hooked up with militant revolutionary typez since that waz my type of background having been around memberz of the loz angelez chapter Black Panther Party growing up. I started teaching a black history class that waz open to all and after a few weekz I waz told by tha warden that if he haz hiz way I waz going to catch another case before my time waz up.Because I waz 1of those Malcolm X typez and waz a threat to society & tha amerikan way of life.   And loved a good fight and me and tha c o’z always knocked headz.

Were you held in a place where your family had easy visitation access?

It waz a 6 ½ hour drive from l.a to California men’z colony. I did not want visitorz 4 it might fuck up my program. Plenty mail on a daily basis and my account stayed fat.

Original six members of the Black Panther Part...

Original six members of the Black Panther Party (November, 1966) Top left to right: Elbert “Big Man” Howard; Huey P. Newton (Defense Minister), Sherman Forte, Bobby Seale (Chairman). Bottom: Reggie Forte and Little Bobby Hutton (Treasurer) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a tougher question to answer, but do you feel that you were treated fairly by guards and other C.O.s or were you abused? Please try to answer this question fairly, but honestly. I’ve had inmates tell me horror stories of physical and psychological abuse, and I’ve had others tell me they thought the staff at their facility was decent, just trying their best to get a tough job done.

I did not like staff and they did not like me. Alot of tha c o’z used to tell me what they were going to do to me and I would tell them kool, but I’m gonna break  a little something off in ur azz if  u come at me the wrong way. I can’t even count how many timez staff jumped on me and I got a good azz whippen but I sure az hell let them know they were just in fight and there waz no fear in heart.

Were your charges drug related?

yes

Do you feel that the punishment “fit” the crime?

no

Do you believe that you were treated more harshly due to ethnicity, economic class, or social class? Conversely, would you say that justice was truly blind in your case, and you got no more or less than anyone else in the system?

Yes 4 my partner in crime at tha time waz a white dude he got 1year 4 an 1st offense and me I got a smooth azz nickel and believe u me I did it all.

Did you spend any time in “SHU” or any other form of solitary confinement?

I spent 9 monthz on tha dark side. Tha darkside meant there waz no light except 4 when then they were giving u that nasty azz loaf 4 ur mealz. What ever was on tha menu 4 tha day juice ,food and dessert was made in to a loaf and cooked.

You can read more of Moorbey’s work on Moorbey’z Blog. DeafInPrison.com is very grateful to him for this interview, and BitcoDavid is a huge fan of his writing voice. I know my writing teachers are spinning in their graves, but that’s just too bad.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Amnesty International Petition for Angola 3 Member

By BitcoDavid

Amnesty International has created a petition for Albert Woodfox, who has spent 41 years in solitary confinement, from the 1972 conviction of murdering a guard at Angola. The court has since then, reversed its decision – on several occasions – but the Attorney General of the state of Louisiana has stubbornly appealed, each ruling. This petition is asking that he cease his appeals.

The link to the petition can be found on our Petitions page, or you can simply click here.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Wasted Lives – Our Children Die in Adult Jails

By BitcoDavid

In the 1990s, a wave of fear tore through the fabric of American culture. We were terrified by the idea of non-prosecutable children committing murder and other violent crimes. We were constantly being told that gangs – most of which were Latin in origin – were recruiting minors, and the Media was rife with stories of random killings and armed robberies committed by children.

A fearful and punitive nation had to react, and react we did.

Georgia Alliance for Children

Richard Brown’s suicide note. Georgia Alliance for Children

By the turn of the century, the idea of children being tried and convicted as adults was no longer news. Teens and tweens – sentenced to LWOP and even death, didn’t horrify us as much as the idea of an arbitrary phantom youth wielding a Tec-9.

On October 19th, 2007, Ashley Smith – while allegedly being monitored on video – tore some strips of cloth from her bed sheets, wrapped them around her neck, and slid off the bed into oblivion. She had spent the past year at an adult facility in Canada – most of that time in solitary. Guards who swear they were watching her, didn’t find the body for 4 hours. She was 19.

In Georgia, Richard Brown had just turned 15 when he decided to break into a Little League concession stand. Georgia sent him to a youth facility, but it was over a hundred miles away. His family couldn’t afford to come visit him. Left by authorities to his own devices, Brown was bullied and antagonized by the other teenaged inmates. He was deprived of food and sexually assaulted. Six days before Christmas, he scrawled out a hand written note, and hanged himself from the ceiling fire suppressor.

Ashley Smith spent almost a year in Segregation before hanging herself at 19. Photo: The Star - Canada.

Ashley Smith spent almost a year in Segregation before hanging herself at 19. Photo: The Star – Canada.

According to the DOJ, 110 youths, aged 15 to 17 killed themselves while in custody in the 4 years between 1995 and 1999. A staggering 70% of them were being held for non-violent offenses. However, all the young people in that report were detained at youth facilities.

The NYT reports,  that teenagers are 36 times more likely to commit suicide in an adult jail than those in juvenile facilities. The idea of holding minors in adult jails until the youth authorities can decide what to do with them is proving to be an abysmal failure, as well. Forty-eight percent of youth suicides in adult facilities take place in the first week of incarceration.

I debated whether to use this picture. I finally decided to go with it. My apology to any who find it offensive. Photo: CharonBoat.com. You might find the comments interesting.

I debated whether to use this picture. I finally decided to go with it. My apology to any who find it offensive. Photo: CharonBoat.com. You might find the comments interesting.

Psychologists tell us the the Human brain doesn’t complete its development until the mid to late 20s. Children aren’t just small adults. They react much differently to stimuli than do their adult counterparts. One such stimulus is solitary confinement. This inhumane and draconian punishment destroys adults – imagine what it must be like to be 16, and locked away from all Human contact.

Furthermore, Children are often held for much different reasons than are adults. Incorrigibility, truancy and a plethora of psychological and behavioral issues – none of which are actually crimes - can be behind why a minor may find herself in custody. You’re a 15 year-old girl who feels like a misfit at school, and acts out. Next thing you know, you’re in solitary confinement in a Supermax! Or possibly worse – you’re thrown into a population with abusers and hardened criminals.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

 

California Ordered to Stop “Race-Based” Punishment

By BitcoDavid

According to the Associated Press, and the Sacramento Bee, the California Court of Appeals has ordered the infamous Pelican Bay, to cease all race-based punishments with the exception of a riot or other emergency.  The order came down on January 23rd.

English: Pelican Bay State Prison

Pelican Bay State Prison (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Three Judges ruled unanimously, that the prison had to explore methods of controlling violence and substance abuse, other than long term segregation of ethnic groups. The ruling comes out of a 2010 lawsuit in which the plaintiff claimed that Pelican Bay had refused privileges to all Hispanic inmates, for 3 years, after a riot between the Northern and Southern Mexican gangs.

The California Department of Corrections counters that the 2 groups are at war, and need to be segregated from one another. Further, they claim that the only method of segregation is based on “validating” inmates as gang members, and that that has nothing to do with simple ethnicity.

English: White Hispanic and Latino Americans

White Hispanic and Latino Americans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Validation is a loose and arbitrary process that involves interpreting tattoos, accusations by other inmates, and encouraging false confessions. The wrong answer to a simple question can result in solitary confinement in the prison’s renowned and horrific “SHU.”

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/01/23/5136278/court-tells-prison-to-stop-race.html#storylink=cpy

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

The Cost of Solitary Confinement – From NY Times

By BitcoDavid

* A moment to mourn the victims of today’s school shooting in Connecticut. *

The New York Legislature greatly improved the treatment of mentally ill inmates in 2008, when it required the prison system to place seriously mentally ill inmates who violate rules into a treatment program instead of solitary confinement, where they were more likely to harm themselves or commit suicide.

www.nytimes.com/2012/12/14/opinion/the-cost-of-solitary-confinement.htm

Solitary confinement

Solitary confinement (Photo credit: Chris.Gray)

When it comes to the science of torture, there is no nation as expert as North Korea. They literally wrote the book on the subject, during the 1950s. The North Koreans regularly used systematic torture on American POWs during that conflict.  What the North Koreans discovered was that no form of punishment was more effective in breaking the minds and spirits of their victims, than solitary confinement.

Men who could withstand electric shock, beatings and other forms of coercion that sane people can’t even comprehend, would cry like babies after only a few weeks of solitary.

The Times article continues:

A lawsuit filed last week by The New York Civil Liberties Union, however, suggests that the system is still misusing punitive isolation, not just for some of the mentally ill, but for a broad range of the system’s 55,000 inmates.

Most prison systems use isolation selectively, singling out violent people who present a danger to guards and other inmates. The lawsuit asserts that New York uses isolation as routine punishment for minor, nonviolent offenses — more than any other system in the country.

Regardless of how horrific a form of punishment this is, I chose this article because the only way to get Americans to stop doing something bad, is to hand them the bill. This lawsuit does just that.

The plaintiff in the suit, Leroy Peoples, is a 30-year-old with a history of mental illness who was twice sentenced to solitary confinement. In 2005, he was sentenced to six months for “unauthorized possession of nutritional supplements” that were available for sale in the prison commissary. In 2009, he was sentenced to three years in isolation for having unauthorized legal materials.

According to court documents, between 2007 and 2011, the state imposed 70,000 isolation sentences for offenses like having an “untidy cell or person,” or for “littering,” “unfastened long hair” or an “unreported illness.” On any given day, about 4,300 of the system’s inmates are locked down for 23 hours a day in tiny concrete cells, many of them destined to remain there for years. As additional punishment, prison officials can deny food, exercise, bedding or showers.

The suit charges that New York’s system is arbitrary and, therefore, unconstitutional. It also suggests that African-American inmates are more often banished to isolation, and for longer periods of time, than inmates from other racial groups. However the court decides this case, it seems clear that New York’s isolation policy is inhumane and counterproductive, requiring clearer guidelines from the Legislature as to when isolation can and cannot be used.

See the original article here:

www.nytimes.com/2012/12/14/opinion/the-cost-of-solitary-confinement.htm

The notorious "Block 15" in the 1950...

The notorious “Block 15″ in the 1950s. Built before the war as a military prison, it became the camp’s strict solitary confinement building. Cramped conditions, absence of basic sanitation, isolation from the outside world and the guards’ brutality affected the inmates’ health and sanity. (Greek) Haidari Municipality: Block 15 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Stunning PowerPoint by Solitary Watch – Solitary 101

By BitcoDavid

PowerPoint presentation by Jean Casella and James Ridgeway of Solitary Watch.

This is a truly massive work, and well worth taking a few minutes to watch in its entirety. Well written, informative and beautifully enhanced with photos and graphics, this presentation is a must see.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

 

Abandoned Youth

Photo Credit: Marsha Graham from iPhonePhotoMaven and AnotherBoomerBlog.
http://iphonephotomaven.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/cold-and-pensive-lawn-angel/

When we abandon our youth, they have no option but to abandon themselves. Lives are wasted, dreams cast away in trade for an existence of solitude, bitterness and victimization.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the man hanged by the Gestapo in 1943 for treason against the Nazi regime said, “The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children. “

How then can we lock ours up in adult prisons – many for life sentences? And how can we allow so much of that time to be served as solitary confinement?

IPS News Service reports:

Thousands of young detainees are being held in solitary confinement in jails and prisons across the United States, for weeks, months or even years with virtually no human contact or meaningful motivation, according to a joint report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released Wednesday.

Juvenile Girl in Prison by Richard Ross. Photo credit
http://www.businessinsider.com/richard-ross-juvenile-in-justice-2012-10

Neurologists tell us the the prefrontal cortex of the Human brain doesn’t fully develop until adulthood. We house-train our pets. Why can’t we extend the same level of understanding to our children?

In many cases, the juvenile justice system can help steer kids onto the right track. It has, over the generations, helped many lost kids find their footing in society. But in thousands of cases in this country, we’re simply throwing up our hands and abandoning these children to the wolves. Raised in prison, they grow up hardened criminals.

Huffington Post states that there are currently over 70,000 juveniles and teens locked up in America’s prisons. These aren’t halfway houses or foster homes. These are American penitentiaries.

Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, in an interview with Richard Ross, tells the story of  Ronald F., in Miami.

“It was his birthday,” Ross said. “He’s 18 this past week, and they switched him over to an adult facility.”

Ross said that prior to his incarceration, he was a special education student in the sixth grade. He said that for 30 years, his mother was a crack addict.

“Before he got brought in on these charges, four and a half years ago, she tried to kill him, quite literally stab him to death,” Ross stated.

Ross said that the young man wound up falling through the cracks of the child welfare system, and began running with “the wrong crowd.” At 13, Ross said he was accused of some “heinous” crimes, which ultimately resulted in his incarceration at a juvenile detention facility for 51 months.

As of his 18th birthday, Ross said, “Ronald hasn’t gone to trial yet.”

As we become more tough on crime, we insist on warehousing more errant Human beings – many of them wrongly so. But warehousing children is unforgivable.

 

 

Five Years in Solitary – For a Cell Phone – by HumansInShadow

I got this from HumansInShadow.com.  They got it from Jim Ridgeway’s site, SolitaryWatch.com. It appears that Phillip Miller was a model prisoner, having served the first half of a twenty year sentence. A guard smuggled a cell phone in, and Miller ended up getting an additional 5 years in solitary.

Miller was brought before an internal prison disciplinary hearing and pled guilty to the two charges. But he sought to call various inmates who could attest to his good behavior and to describe what actually had happened. The hearing officer denied him  his request, claiming that he, the prison officer, knew all about Miller and it wasn’t necessary to call the witnesses. Miller was found guilty of both charges and sentenced to 60 months—five years—in solitary, with a proviso that 24 months might be suspended if he incurred no further disciplinary charges. Despite the nonviolent nature of his offenses, Miller was shipped off to serve his time at Southport, the all-solitary supermax facility south of Elmira.

The article goes on to state that New York leads the nation in disciplinary use of solitary confinement and segregration.

Long stretches in the so-called Special Housing Unit (“the SHU” or, more commonly, ”the box”) is an everyday punishment in New York State prisons. Currently, about  4,500 inmates are serving time in some form of 23-hour-a-day lockdown, with sentences ranging from months to decades. As we wrote in an earlier article, New York leads the nation in the use of “disciplinary segregation,” and isolation “is very much a punishment of first resort, doled out for minor rule violations as well as major offenses. In New York, the most common reason for a stint in solitary is creating a ‘disturbance’ or ‘demonstration.’…Second is ‘dirty urine’—testing positive for drugs of any kind…Other infractions include refusing to obey orders, ‘interfering with employees,’ being ‘out of place’ and possession of contraband—not only a shiv but a joint, a cellphone or too many postage stamps.”

English: The Solitary Confinement cell of the ...

The Solitary Confinement cell of the Gladstone Gaol, Gladstone, South Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, ask yourself what happened to the C.O. who brought the cell phone in, in the first place.

The corrections officer in question was 12-year veteran Leon Strand. According to information provided upon request by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision’s Office of Public Information, Strand was ”arrested on felony dangerous contraband charges by the New York State Police on May 21, 2010.” The following day, Strand was suspended without pay, and he “resigned from his Correction Officer position while facing DOCCS disciplinary charges.” The Public Information Office also reported that “on November 23, 2010, Strand pleaded guilty to Promoting Prison Contraband,” but was not aware what sentence he had received. Records show that Strand never served any time in the New York State prison system, and as far as we can ascertain, never did any jail time, either.

Known as "klondike" or "the hol...

Known as “klondike” or “the hole”, this subterranean holding cell was the most severe form of solitary confinement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Solitary Confinement is Used as Torture – From AlterNet

As pertains to the Deaf, even incarceration within a general population environment can be likened to solitary confinement. In many cases, the inmate may be the sole Deaf occupant of the facility. In such cases, he will have no one to communicate with, and will in essence be in solitary confinement. However, this article refers to so called control unitsSupermax prisons and the other more traditional definitions of solitary confinement.

Perhaps the most notorious case of all is that of the  Angola 3 , three Black Panthers who have been held in solitary confinement in Louisiana for more than 100 years between the three of them. While Robert King was released after 29 years in solitary, his comrades – Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace – recently began their 40th years in solitary confinement, despite an ongoing lawsuit challenging their isolation and a growing international movement for their freedom that has been supported by Amnesty International.

This story came from AlterNet. It discusses not only the horrors of unending solitary confinement, but also the inequity with which it is meted out.

But while broad patterns can be discerned, these are the numbers that are missing: How many of those in solitary confinement are Black? How many are self-taught lawyers, educators or political activists? How many initiated hunger strikes, which have long been anathema to the prison administration? How many were caught up in the FBI-organized dragnet that hauled thousands of community leaders, activists and thinkers into the maws of the U.S. “justice” system during the Black liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s?

http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/solitary-confinement-used-torture-chambers-black-dissidents?akid=9250.79351.Xb2r6B&rd=1&src=newsletter697066&t=12

Human Rights Watch estimated that there were approximately 20,000 prisoners being held in Supermax prisons, which are entire facilities dedicated to solitary confinement or near-solitary. It is estimated that at least 80,000 men, women and even children are being held in solitary confinement on any given day in U.S. jails and prisons.

Reading this article, I was stunned by the time spans they discuss. The thought of being completely alone, in the dark, and deprived of any form of aesthesis for even a period of a few days is terrifying. Imagine being locked up like that for 40 years.

The following links are already embedded in both the original AlterNet article, and in this post, but I felt the need to add them anyway.

http://solitarywatch.com/2012/02/01/how-many-prisoners-are-in-solitary-confinement-in-the-united-states/

http://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/supermax/Sprmx002.htm#P40_391

http://blog.amnestyusa.org/iar/louisianas-angola-3-100-years-of-solitude/

Too Many Prisoners – From Prisonmovement’s Weblog

Image courtesy of Prisonmovement’s Weblog

This is a reblog of an article that appeared in Prisonmovement’s Weblog, over the weekend. For those of you not familiar with them, here’s what they say about themselves:

Against the death penalty; the United States Criminal Justice System is flawed, broken, yet fixable; Prison Reform and Sentencing Reform should be major agenda’s for each state- we need to stop warehousing prisoners and ready those who are going to parole.
Inmate rehabilitation improves public safety and lowers prison costs.
“We have to care because we can’t afford not to”.

DeafInPrison.com loves Prisonmovement’s Weblog, and we hope you enjoy this post.

Here’s the link.

http://prisonmovement.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/too-many-prisoners/

 

 

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