IT'S BEEN SEVEN MONTHS since I've been inside a prison cell. Now I'm back, sort of. The experience is eerily like my dreams, where I am a prisoner in another man's cell. Like the cell I go back to in my sleep, this one is built for solitary confinement. I'm taking intermittent, heaving breaths, like I can't get enough air. This still happens to me from time to time, especially in tight spaces. At a little over 11 by 7 feet, this cell is smaller than any I've ever inhabited. You can't pace in it.
Like in my dreams, I case the space for the means of staying sane. Is there a TV to watch, a book to read, a round object to toss? The pathetic artifacts of this inmate's life remind me of objects that were once everything to me: a stack of books, a handmade chessboard, a few scattered pieces of artwork taped to the concrete, a family photo, large manila envelopes full of letters. I know that these things are his world.
"So when you're in Iran and in solitary confinement," asks my guide, Lieutenant Chris Acosta, "was it different?" His tone makes clear that he believes an Iranian prison to be a bad place.
He's right about that. After being apprehended on the Iran-Iraq border, Sarah Shourd, Josh Fattal, and I were held in Evin Prison's isolation ward for political prisoners. Sarah remained there for 13 months, Josh and I for 26 months. We were held incommunicado. We never knew when, or if, we would get out. We didn't go to trial for two years. When we did we had no way to speak to a lawyer and no means of contesting the charges against us, which included espionage. The alleged evidence the court held was "confidential."
What I want to tell Acosta is that no part of my experience—not the uncertainty of when I would be free again, not the tortured screams of other prisoners—was worse than the four months I spent in solitary confinement. What would he say if I told him I needed human contact so badly that I woke every morning hoping to be interrogated? Would he believe that I once yearned to be sat down in a padded, soundproof room, blindfolded, and questioned, just so I could talk to somebody?
On Friday, May 11th, Hans Ashbaucher took a plea bargain in the case from his November 12 Occupy Eureka arrest. Hans was preparing to go to trial on Monday, but we all know that from the court system, it can be very difficult to get any justice (or to avoid being screwed).
The threat of jail expansion comes amidst numerous lawsuits surrounding allegations of systematic abuse and torture in LA’s jails as well as numerous reports and expert opinions recommending against the rampant misuse of incarceration in the county. ... Twenty counties in California have applied for a total of $1,102,855,803 including a $100 million application from LA County. ...
By William Fisher The Public Record Jan 5th, 2012
What you may not know is that the US also tops the charts in the numbers of youth offenders serving life without parole sentences in adult US prisons. The score? The world: 0; the US: 2,570.
INCARCERATION: Holiday Gift from Paul Gallegos to Occupy Eureka
While the District Attorney vacations with his family for the holidays, he (ultimately responsible for actions of his office) has set in motion another campaign of harassment, wrongful arrests, and incarcerations.
(part 1 of 2)
Posted Friday, Oct. 8, 2010
Forty years after the United States began its experimentation with mass incarceration policies, the country is increasingly divided economically. In new research published in the review Daedalus, a group of leading criminologists coordinated by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (which paid me to consult on this project) argued that much of that growing inequality, which Slate's Timothy Noah has chronicled, is linked to the increasingly widespread use of prisons and jails.
Jul 22nd 2010 | Spring, Texas
THREE pickup trucks pulled up outside George Norris’s home in Spring, Texas. Six armed police in flak jackets jumped out. Thinking they must have come to the wrong place, Mr Norris opened his front door, and was startled to be shoved against a wall and frisked for weapons. He was forced into a chair for four hours while officers ransacked his house. They pulled out drawers, rifled through papers, dumped things on the floor and eventually loaded 37 boxes of Mr Norris’s possessions onto their pickups. They refused to tell him what he had done wrong. “It wasn’t fun, I can tell you that,” he recalls.
Jul 22nd 2010 | Spring, Texas
IN 2000 four Americans were charged with importing lobster tails in plastic bags rather than cardboard boxes, in violation of a Honduran regulation that Honduras no longer enforces. They had fallen foul of the Lacey Act, which bars Americans from breaking foreign rules when hunting or fishing. The original intent was to prevent Americans from, say, poaching elephants in Kenya. But it has been interpreted to mean that they must abide by every footling wildlife regulation on Earth. The lobstermen had no idea they were breaking the law. Yet three of them got eight years apiece. Two are still in jail.
Eric Seitz - Leonard Peltier Attorney - Response on Parole Denial
Date: Fri, 21 Aug 2009 15:42:08 -0700 (PDT)
Thu Feb 12, 2009, By Jon Hurdle, PHILADELPHIA (Reuters)
Two judges pleaded guilty on Thursday to accepting more than $2.6 million from a private youth detention center in Pennsylvania in return for giving hundreds of youths and teenagers long sentences.