Oct 18, 2013 UN Official comes to Berkeley: LONG TERM SOLITARY CONFINEMENT VIOLATES INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW
When Will Solitary End?
I sit in solitary confinement,
Monitored and evaluated,
Tortured in more ways than I care
To remember or burden you with,
With hopes I’d crack and beg,
Beg to be let out of this torturous place
And crack, losing the bit of sanity I have left
Like so many others before me and so many others
Yet to fall, fall prey to the prison’s administrators,
To the countless tactical torturous games they play.
I am but one of a few hundred who still stand strong,
Fighting to survive, accumulating deep embedded scars
With each passing day, learning to be resilient to all
That’s thrown and piled up against me
In such a difficult, miserable place.
Lonely and deprived of so much, I sit here
Beyond desperate for a helping hand, for something,
Someone, for a movement, for human rights lawyers
And all the advocates out there to put an end
To this heinous practice of solitary confinement
And take me away from this place with my dignity intact.
I hope it’s soon, before many more fall prey
And lose themselves in this dungeon of hell and misery
That’s been in place for far too long.
My actions will soon come
Hoping that they’ll draw the attention needed
To end this heinous practice
Once and for all.
Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, has testified for the first time since he was arrested in May 2010. Speaking Thursday at a pretrial proceeding, Manning revealed the emotional tumult he experienced while imprisoned in Kuwait after his arrest in 2010, saying, "I remember thinking, ’I’m going to die.’ I thought I was going to die in a cage." As part of his testimony, Manning stepped inside a life-sized chalk outline representing the six-by-eight-foot cell he was later held in at the Quantico base in Virginia, and recounted how he would tilt his head to see the reflection of a skylight through a tiny space in his cell door. Manning could face life in prison if convicted of the most serious of 22 counts against him. His trial is expected to begin in February. He has offered to plead guilty to a subset of charges that could potentially carry a maximum prison term of 16 years. "What’s remarkable is that he still has this incredible dignity after going through this," says Michael Ratner, who was in the courtroom during Manning’s appearance. "But I think all these prison conditions were — sure, they were angry at Bradley Manning, but in the face of that psychiatric statement, that this guy shouldn’t be kept on suicide risk or POI, they’re still keeping him in inhuman conditions, you can only ask yourself — they’re trying to break him for some reason. The lawyer, David Coombs, has said it’s so that he can give evidence against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks." Ratner is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a lawyer for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. [includes rush transcript]
Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a lawyer to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. He recently returned from attending part the pretrial hearing for Bradley Manning.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, has testified in a courtroom for the first time since he was arrested in May 2010. Speaking Thursday at a pretrial proceeding, Manning revealed the emotional tumult that he experienced while imprisoned in Kuwait after his arrest in 2010, saying, quote, "I remember thinking, ’I’m going to die.’ I thought I was going to die in a cage."
As part of his testimony, Manning stepped inside a life-sized chalk outline representing the six-by-eight-foot cell he was later held in at the Quantico base in Virginia, and he recounted how he would tilt his head to see the reflection of a skylight through a tiny space in his cell door.
Our “Solitary 101″ PowerPoint, developed for the recent Midwest Coalition for Human Rights conference on Solitary Confinement and Human Rights, is now available online. The 60-slide PowerPoint includes sections on the history of solitary confinement, solitary as it is practiced in the United States today, and the growing movement against solitary confinement.
We encourage educators and advocates to use, share, and customize the presentation according to their needs (for non-commercial purposes only, with proper attribution to Solitary Watch). No advance permission is necessary, although we will appreciate hearing about how you are using the presentation, as well as any suggestions for improvement.
November 8, 2012 by Solitary Watch Guest Author Lance Tapley
In 1986 Ojore Lutalo, a black revolutionary in the Trenton State Prison — now the New Jersey State Prison — wrote to Bonnie Kerness’s American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) office in Newark. His letter described the extreme isolation and other brutalities in the prison’s Management Control Unit, which he called a “prison within a prison.”
“I could not believe what he was telling me” about the MCU, she says. She reacted by becoming “this lunatic white lady” calling New Jersey corrections officials about Lutalo.
Kerness immediately went to work trying to stop MCU guards from harassing prisoners by waking them at 1 a.m. to make them strip in front of snarling dogs leaping for their genitals — to arbitrarily have them switch cells. She got this practice stopped.
Lutalo’s letter also began to open her eyes to the torture of solitary confinement, which in the mid-1980s was just starting to spread across the country as a mass penological practice. Coordinator of the AFSC’s national Prison Watch Project, Kerness had worked on prison issues since the mid-1970s. Now she became an anti-solitary-confinement activist. In 2012, she has been one longer and more consistently than, possibly, anyone else.
November 5, 2012 by
In a horrific story out of Oklahoma, lawyers representing the estate of a prisoner who was found dead in the Tulsa Jail have sued the local sheriff’s office and the jail’s private health care provider. In a motion just filed in federal court, attorneys have asked a judge to release a video made of the man’s final two days, during which he allegedly languished in an isolation cell without food, water, or medical attention.
As reported by the Tulsa World:
Elliott Earl Williams, 37, was pronounced dead in his cell at 11:21 a.m. Oct. 27, 2011, after allegedly going days without food and water…
According to the motion seeking release of the video and related documents, Williams–who had exhibited signs of mental illness–tried to hurt himself and ran into a steel door head-first after being placed in a booking cell upon arrival at the jail Oct. 22.
When detention officers and medical personnel refused to treat him, claiming he was faking paralysis, he was left on the floor of the booking cell for 10 hours and soiled himself, the motion states.
He was then transferred by gurney to the jail’s medical unit, where he was dumped in a shower and left for two hours. He was then moved to a medical unit cell, where he was left naked on a steel bunk with only a blanket, the motion states.
Williams remained in the cell, naked, immobile and with only a blanket, for the next three days, according to the motion.
He last ate on the morning of Oct. 23 and last drank any water–”other than a few drops he managed to lick off his fingers”–on the morning of Oct. 24, according to documents cited in the motion.
The next morning, on Oct. 25, Williams was dragged on his blanket to a video-monitored cell, according to the motion. The remaining 51 hours of Williams’ life were videotaped.
Included on that tape, according to the motion, are numerous instances in which detention officers opened Williams’ cell door and threw Styrofoam food containers onto the floor of the cell.
On Oct. 26, the day before his death, no one entered his cell, according to the motion.
“On one occasion, he attempted to open one of the food containers that had been thrown into his cell the previous day, but his efforts to do so failed,” the motion states. “In the process of trying to open the food container, he spilled the cup of water. The empty cup was still in the cell when Mr. Williams died.”
Why does the US put so many people behind bars and what lies behind California's new push for leniency?
People and Power last Modified: 01 Nov 2012 14:40
By filmmakers Michael Montgomery and Monica Lam
The US locks up more people than any other country in the world, spending over $80billion each year to keep some two million prisoners behind bars. Over the past three decades, tough sentencing laws have contributed to a doubling of the country's prison population, with laws commonly known as 'three strikes and you're out' mandating life sentences for a wide range of crimes.
But a clear sign that Americans are rethinking crime and punishment is a voter's initiative on California's November ballot called Proposition 36 that seeks to reform the state's three-strikes law. Some 27 states have three-strikes laws patterned after California's version, which was one of the first to be enacted in the country.
Since it was passed in 1994, nearly 9,000 felons have been convicted in California under the law.
One of them is Norman Williams, a 49-year-old African-American man who was a crack addict living on the streets. He was convicted of burglarising an empty home and later stealing an armload of tools from an art studio. His third strike: filching a jack from a tow truck in Long Beach. His fate sealed under California's three-strikes law, Williams was sent to a maximum security prison [for a life sentence] alongside murderers, rapists and other violent criminals.
"I never wanted to do my whole life in prison. Nobody wants to be caged like that," Williams says.
Williams was lucky. After 13 years behind bars, his case was reviewed by a judge and he was released. He is one of about two dozen 'three strikers' who have won sentence reductions through the work of a Stanford University law clinic founded by Michael Romano. In Williams' case, the prosecutor actually agreed that the original sentence was too harsh. An idea emerged from Romano's work: Why not draft a ballot initiative to ensure that sentences like Williams' will not be repeated?
"When people originally passed the three-strikes law in 1994 the campaigns were about keeping serious and violent murderers, child molesters in prison for the rest of their lives," Romano says. "I think that's what people want and are kind of shocked to hear that people have been sentenced to life for petty theft."
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?
a partial POLICE STATE UPDATE
The Police state has leapt forward in the last year on every level. At the federal level we now have unmanned drones flying over our cities and states courtesy of the CIA. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2012/0616/Drones-over-America.-Are-they-spying-on-you
We have the codification in law of indefinite detention without trial. When the current president signed the NDAA National Defense Authorization Act he signed a law that would allow for the arrest and indefinite detention of citizens without trial. http://www.aclu.org/blog/tag/ndaa
The government had been doing this to the undocumented for years in detention centers run by ICE in the U.S. and by the CIA and Military abroad. http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message1620097/pg1
We have the Justice department conspiring with local government to deprive patients of their life saving medicine. The Hummingbird dispensary was driven out of business and the city still will not permit others to fill the need for cannabis based treatments in the community.
The local government has gone to the extreme of further criminalizing sleep in the summer of 2012, making it a misdemeanor to sleep outside in the city.
They were following in the footsteps of the county board of supervisors that had used a phony emergency to outlaw dissent at the courthouse.
The county action was a reaction to their inability to respond to the issues exposed by Occupy Eureka. The District Attorney and other county government conspired to create a climate of fear about the protest and then used violent repression to remove the people temporarily from in front of the courthouse. http://www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_20271861/humboldt-supervisors-enact-urgency-ordinance-protest-hours-limited?source=pkg
The county refusal to address the problems that the Occupy Movement planted on their doorstep is why the police state thrives. http://www.humboldt.edu/ccrp/total-population-below-poverty-level-redwood-coast-region
In what might be the most egregious affront the City of Eureka has hired Murl Harpham to be the police chief. The hiring is illegal. He is over 65 and has worked for EPD for more than 25 years. Both require his mandatory retirement. He is also When a local activist came to the council meeting to bring this criminal act by the city to the attention of the public she was censored on the public access broadcast and the city website.
GOOD VIDEOS TO WATCH
The Largest Street Gang in America (on You Tube)
"Working to extend democracy to all." Communication is a human right!
On April 26 of this year, John Carter died in his solitary confinement cell at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Rockview in central Pennsylvania.
[MANY LINKS BELOW ARTICLE]
Lynn Parramore, Editor of New Deal 2.0, Co-founder of Recessionwire Posted: Dec 31, 2010
In the earliest days of our Republic, a group of well-meaning Philadelphia Quakers set out to reform the prison system. The idea was to remove convicts from the mayhem and corruption of overcrowded jails to solitary cells where sinners would return to mental and spiritual health through reflection. In the Walnut Street Jail, no windows would distract the prisoners with street life; no conversation would disturb their penitence. Alone with God, they would be rehabilitated.
There was a small problem. Many of the prisoners went insane. The Walnut Street Jail was shut down in 1835.
Dec. 8, 2011
... I honestly believe that there will not be a better time to challenge the legality of warehousing people in isolation than now.
(Telephone press briefing held on May 31, 2012)