solitary confinement

"When Will Solitary End?" by Carlos Marvin Argueta Jr.

 

When Will Solitary End?

I sit in solitary confinement,

Monitored and evaluated,

Psychologically tested,

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.

Accused WikiLeaks Whistleblower Bradley Manning Testifies He Thought He Would "Die in Custody"

Friday, November 30, 2012   on  Democracy Now!

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]

Guest:

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.

Transcript

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.

New from Solitary Watch: “Solitary 101″ PowerPoint Presentation

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.

Solitary Watch’s ‘Solitary 101′ Powerpoint Presentation

Bonnie Kerness: Pioneer in the Struggle Against Solitary Confinement

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.

Solitary in Iran Nearly Broke Me. Then I Went Inside America's Prisons

We throw thousands of men in the hole for the books they read, the company they keep, the beliefs they hold. Here's why.

 

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?

I want to answer his question—of course my experience was different from those of the men at California's Pelican Bay State Prison—but I'm not sure how to do it. How do you compare, when the difference between one person's stability and another's insanity is found in tiny details? Do I point out that I had a mattress, and they have thin pieces of foam; that the concrete open-air cell I exercised in was twice the size of the "dog run" at Pelican Bay, which is about 16 by 25 feet; that I got 15 minutes of phone calls in 26 months, and they get none; that I couldn't write letters, but they can; that we could only talk to nearby prisoners in secret, but they can shout to each other without being punished; that unlike where I was imprisoned, whoever lives here has to shit at the front of his cell, in view of the guards?

"There was a window," I say. I don't quite know how to tell him what I mean by that answer. "Just having that light come in, seeing the light move across the cell, seeing what time of day it was—" Without those windows, I wouldn't have had the sound of ravens, the rare breezes, or the drops of rain that I let wash over my face some nights. My world would have been utterly restricted to my concrete box, to watching the miniature ocean waves I made by sloshing water back and forth in a bottle; to marveling at ants; to calculating the mean, median, and mode of the tick marks on the wall; to talking to myself without realizing it. For hours, days, I fixated on the patch of sunlight cast against my wall through those barred and grated windows. When, after five weeks, my knees buckled and I fell to the ground utterly broken, sobbing and rocking to the beat of my heart, it was the patch of sunlight that brought me back. Its slow creeping against the wall reminded me that the world did in fact turn and that time was something other than the stagnant pool my life was draining into.

When, after five weeks, my knees buckled and I fell to the ground utterly broken, sobbing and rocking to the beat of my heart, it was the patch of sunlight that brought me back.

Here, there are no windows.

 

September 2012 Issue of Rock Newsletter

Here is the September issue of the Rock newsletter. It was mailed out to prisoners August 29, 2012. This and previous issues are available by clicking on the “Rock Newsletter” link at http://www.prisonart.org.

DOWNLOAD September 2012 Rock Newsletter HERE (small file pdf): http://redwoodcurtaincopwatch.net/files/Rock 1-9.pdf

"Working to extend democracy to all."  Communication is a human right!

Support Prisoners on Hunger Strike at Three North Carolina Prisons!

Prisoners Begin Hunger Strike at Three Facilities In NC

On Monday July 16th 2012, prisoners at Central Prison in Raleigh, Bertie CI in Windsor, and Scotland CI in Laurinburg all began a coordinated hunger strike. The men have issued a series of demands revolving around food, healthcare, abuse by guards, and in particular for a return of prison law libraries, and are encouraging other prisoners to join in with their own actions and demands. They are also calling for the release of those on I-Con status and the abolition of separate control statuses. The prisoners have vowed not to eat until their demands are met. [see prisoners' demands below]

Correspondence with the prisoners has confirmed the strike at several facilities, and that at least at Central Prison over 100 prisoners began the strike on Monday. Prisoners have encouraged supporters to call or fax the administrations of these different facilities as well as Director Robert Lewis (see information below), to “march or protest in front of Central Prison and others,” “boycott all products being sold in these prisons,” and to “contact media outlets and let them know what we are doing.” 

Tortured Until Proven Guilty: Bradley Manning and the Case Against Solitary Confinement

[MANY LINKS BELOW ARTICLE]

Lynn Parramore, Editor of New Deal 2.0, Co-founder of Recessionwire  Posted: Dec 31, 2010

The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons. ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky

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.

Support Palestinian Hunger Strikers! SIGN PETITION

Prisoners Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh, who started the strike and have been detained for 2 years without charges, are at grave risk of death, now entering their 74th day (5/11/12) of fasting. For reference, Mahatma Gandhi ended his longest hunger strike on day 21; Bobby Sands died on day 66. 

MOTHERS DAY, May 13th: Mothers Smashing the Prison Industrial Complex & Mothers Speaking Out for Their Children in Solitary Confinement (Hear Audio)

Mother’s Day provides an opportunity to honor and celebrate our given and chosen families.  For those of us fighting the prison industrial complex, Mother’s Day can also provide an opportunity to reflect on the ways the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) attacks and disrupts our families. 

The good news is that all over the world moms are leading the charge against the PIC.

...on the Class Action Lawsuit Against CA's Use of Prolonged Solitary Confinement

(Telephone press briefing held on May 31, 2012)  

“My name is Marie Levin. I am the youngest sister of Ronnie Dewberry.

“Ronnie has been held in the Secure Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison since 1990. That is truly cruel and unusual punishment.

“When I heard about the inhumane conditions in the SHU, I broke down crying uncontrollably.

“Ronnie lives in a cramped, windowless cell for at least 22.5 hours a day. He is let out of the cell only to exercise alone in a concrete enclosure and to shower 3 times weekly.

“He is allowed no phone calls and they only receive one package per year.

“His food is often cold and rotten.

“Ronnie has chronic stomach problems, swollen thyroid glands, and a severe Vitamin D deficiency. He also suffers from high blood pressure and has at times been denied his medication.

“He says that being in the SHU feels like psychological torture.

“This is traumatizing knowing that a loved one is suffering and there’s nothing you can do about it.

“Ronnie and I are 10 months apart, and we were very close growing up.

“At first, he was in [a] prison near our family and we were able to visit regularly. I was able to visit him regularly.

“Since he was transferred to Pelican Bay in 1990, I have seen him only 5 times. The drive is almost 8 hours in a car in travel…very expensive.

“There is much time between visits that each time Ronnie looks much older.

“After the long, costly trip, we are only permitted to visit for 1 hour through a piece of glass. I have not been able to hug my brother in over 2 decades.

“My mother has had several strokes and is now paralyzed, speaks with difficulty, and suffers from dementia. She longs to see her only son but she is no longer able to make the long and difficult trip.

“Though Ronnie is eligible for parole, he will not be paroled while he is in the SHU.

“I fear our mother will pass away before she and Ronnie can see each other again.

“In 2001, our oldest sibling, Carol, suffered kidney failure and Ronnie set about trying to donate a kidney for her. He was able to get tested and found out that he was a compatible donor. But the prison would not allow him to make the donation.

“For years, Ronnie fought for permission to save his sister.

“Carol died in 2010 in a pool of blood, bleeding out after a dialysis treatment. She was 59-years-old.

“I am very grateful for this lawsuit and for all of the support that has been given to Pelican Bay prisoners since the hunger strike.

“The movement to end these barbaric conditions has lifted Ronnie’s peers as well. For the first time in a very long time, I felt hopeful that Ronnie’s situation might change for the better.”

###

Transcript of Remarks by Marie Levin, family member of Pelican Bay SHU prisoner Ronnie Dewberry, on the Ruiz v. Brown class action lawsuit challenging California’s use of prolonged solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison

Read more: Lawsuit challenges California’s prolonged solitary confinement policy

Report Sheds Light On Dire Prison Conditions For Youth Offenders Serving Life Sentences

By The Public Record   Jan 5th, 2012

You probably know that the United States has more people in jail than any other country in the world. The staggering number is 2.3 million. China, which has four times as many people as the US, is a distant second with 1.6 million prisoners.

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.

THE PRISON, by Mumia Abu-Jamal 12-17-11 [audio and update included]

 The Prison
[col. writ. 12/17/11] (c) '11 Mumia Abu-Jamal
 
Every prison is the same; and every prison is different.
Every prison has its own mythos, (think Alcatraz, Sing Sing, Attica), its own rhythm. hard, cool, tight, relaxed, severe or super max. And every prison is run by class -as in how courts or administrators have classified a crime according to whose interests are threatened.
 

U.N. Torture Investigator Calls For An End to Long-Term Solitary Confinement

Solitary confinement should be banned in most cases, UN expert says

18 October 2011A United Nations expert on torture today called on all countries to ban the solitary confinement of prisoners except in very exceptional circumstances and for as short a time as possible, with an absolute prohibition in the case of juveniles and people with mental disabilities.

“Segregation, isolation, separation, cellular, lockdown, Supermax, the hole, Secure Housing Unit… whatever the name, solitary confinement should be banned by States as a punishment or extortion technique,” UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez told the General Assembly’s third committee, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural affairs, saying the practice could amount to torture.

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