prison sucks

information about the looming prison industrial complex; what are you going to do about it?


Jails and prisons are designed to break human beings, to convert the population into specimens in a zoo - obedient to our keepers, but dangerous to each other. --Angela Davis

When metaphor invades decolonization, it kills the very possibility of decolonization; it recenters whiteness, it resettles theory, it extends innocence to the settler, it entertains a settler future. Decolonize (a verb) and decolonization (a noun) cannot easily be grafted onto pre-existing discourses/frameworks, even if they are critical, even if they are anti-racist, even if they are justice frameworks. The easy absorption, adoption, and transposing of decolonization is yet another form of settler appropriation. When we write about decolonization, we are not offering it as a metaphor; it is not an approximation of other experiences of oppression. Decolonization is not a swappable term for other things we want to do to improve our societies and schools. Decolonization doesn’t have a synonym.

—Eve Tuck, K. Wayne Yang, “Decolonization is not a metaphor.” (via nepantlastrategies)

(Source: do--not--follow, via themodernistwitch)

jayaprada:

Incarceration Nation via Black Agenda Reports

The U.S. imprisons more people per capita than any country on earth, accounting for 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, despite having just five percent of the world’s population.

America currently holds over two million in prisons with double that number under supervision of parole and probation, according to federal government figures.

Mass incarceration consumes over $50-billion annually across America – money far better spent on creating jobs and improving education.

Under federal law persons with drug convictions like Garner are permanently barred from receiving financial aid for education, food stamps, welfare and publicly funded housing.

But only drug convictions trigger these exclusions under federal law. Violent bank robbers, white-collar criminals like Wall Street scam artists who steal billions, and even murderers who’ve done their time do not face the post-release deprivations slapped on those with drug convictions on their records, including those imprisoned for simple possession, and not major drug sales.

“Academics see this topic of mass incarceration as numbers, but for millions it is their daily lives,” said Princeton conference panelist Dr. Khalilah Brown-Dean of Yale University.

Exclusions mandated by federal laws compound the legal deprivations of rights found in the laws of most states, such as barring ex-felons from jobs and even stripping ex-felons of their right to vote.

“Mass incarceration raises questions of protecting and preserving democracy,” Dr. Brown-Dean said, citing the estimated five-million-plus Americans barred from voting by such felony disenfranchisement laws.

Many of those felony disenfranchisement laws date from measures enacted in the late 1800s which were devised specifically to bar blacks from voting, as a way to preserve America’s apartheid.

During the 2000 presidential election Republican officials in Florida fraudulently manipulated that state’s anti-felon voting law to bar tens of thousands of blacks from voting. For example, many people with common names like John Smith who shared their name with a felon were also barred from voting, despite having clear records.

Yet George W. Bush won by Florida – the state where his brother Jeb served as Governor – by 537 votes. That victory in the state where George W.’s brother Jeb served as governor sent him to the White House.

Policies creating barriers to things like education and employment make it “increasingly difficult” for persons recently released from prison to “remain crime-free” according to a report released earlier this year by the Smart on Crime Coalition.

More than 60 percent of the two-million-plus people in American prisons are racial and ethnic minorities.

“The U.S. imprisons more than South Africa did under apartheid. A nation that promotes democracy has a racial caste in its prisons. We must break that caste system,” said the special guest speaker at the “Imprisonment” conference, Pennsylvania Death Row Journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who telephoned from prison.

Racism is written all over the economically/socially debilitating practices embedded in mass incarceration.

A recent University of Wisconsin study found that 17 percent of white ex-con job seekers received interviews, compared to only five percent of black ex-con job seekers – a race-based disparity that is additionally devastating for people of color like Garner.


hio State University Law Professor Michelle Alexander, the featured speaker at that Princeton conference streamed live on the internet, said a major reason why imprisonment rates soared during the past four decades despite decreases in crime rates is anti-crime policies craftily manipulated by conservative Republican officials for political purposes.

Harsh anti-crimes policies of the 1970s and 1980s were largely a “punitive backlash” to advances of the Civil Rights Movement, said Alexander, author of the hugely popular 2010 book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

Pennsylvania’s prison population, for example, soared from 8,243 in 1980 to 51,487 in 2010, while the California prison population leapt during the same period from 23,264 to over 170,000.

Incarceration costs are particularly obscene when compared to college costs.

A report released in January 2011 by Pennsylvania’s auditor general that noted the Keystone State now spends $32,059 annually to imprison one person…a cost that exceeds the annual $20,074 tuition for the MBA degree program at Penn State University.

A report released in January 2010 by a UCLA professor noted that the Golden State spends over $48,000 annually to imprison one person, more than four times the tuition cost of UCLA for a California resident. Back in 1980, California spent more of its state budget on higher education than on prisons, but that had reversed by 2010, with more of that state’s budget going for prisons than for higher education.

America’s corrosive War on Drugs – a “war” that basically ignores drug kingpins – has devastated black families, author/professor Alexander said.

“A black child today is less likely to be raised in a two-parent household than during slavery,” she said. “In major urban areas almost one-half of black men have criminal records. Thus they face a lifetime of legalized discrimination,” encompassing exclusions from employment and access to financial assistance required to secure a viable quality of life.

Africa-Americans are 13 percent of America’s population and 14 percent of the nation’s drug users but are 37 percent of persons arrested for drugs and 56 percent of the inmates in state prisons for drug offenses, noted the 2009 congressional testimony of Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project and a conference panelist.

Both ex-felon Herman Garner and Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr., chair of Princeton’s Center for African American Studies, which hosted the conference, expressed similar views on the impacts of mass incarceration.

read more

(via randomactsofchaos)

thepeoplesrecord:

Human Rights Watch decries U.S. prison systemJanuary 31, 2013
Human Rights Watch Thursday published its annual World Report, in which it lays out a pointed critique of the U.S. prison system. The enormous prison population  — the largest in the world at 1.6 million — “partly reflects harsh sentencing practices contrary to international law,” notes the report.
The 2013 World Report, a 665-page tome which assesses human rights progress in the past year in 90 countries, highlights particular issues undergirding the U.S.’s blighted carceral system. It notes that “practices contrary to human rights principles, such as the death penalty, juvenile life-without-parole sentences, and solitary confinement are common and often marked by racial disparities.” Via HRW:

Research in 2012 found that the massive over-incarceration includes a growing number of elderly people whom prisons are ill-equipped to handle, and an estimated 93,000 youth under age 18 in adult jails and another 2,200 in adult prisons. Hundreds of children are subjected to solitary confinement. Racial and ethnic minorities remain disproportionately represented in the prison population.

HRW cite statistics often used to show racial disparities in the U.S. prison system. For example, while whites, African Americans and Latinos have comparable rates of drug use, African Americans are arrested for drug offenses, including possession, at three times the rate of white men.
“The United States has shown little interest in tackling abusive practices that have contributed to the country’s huge prison population,” said Maria McFarland, deputy U.S. program director at Human Rights Watch. “Unfortunately, it is society’s most vulnerable – racial and ethnic minorities, low-income people, immigrants, children, and the elderly – who are most likely to suffer from injustices in the criminal justice system.”
Although noting some progress in 2012 (both D.C. and Connecticut joined the ranks of 16 states to have abolished the death penalty), HRW also stressed continuing injustices in U.S. immigration policies, labor issues and treatment of minorities, women, the disabled and HIV positive individuals. The report was particularly critical when reviewing the U.S.’s counterterrorism policies. The NGO noted in a statement:


Both the Obama administration and Congress supported abusive counterterrorism laws and policies, including detention without charge at Guantanamo Bay, restrictions on the transfer of detainees held there, and prosecutions in a fundamentally flawed military commission system.  Attacks by US aerial drones were carried out in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and elsewhere, with important legal questions about the attacks remaining unanswered.
The administration has taken no steps toward accountability for torture and other abuses committed by US officials in the so-called “war on terror,” and a Justice Department criminal investigation into detainee abuse concluded without recommending any charges. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence completed a more than 6,000-page report detailing the CIA’s rendition, detention, and interrogation program, but has yet to seek the report’s declassification so it can be released to the public.

The World Report explicitly mentions Obama’s signing of the NDAA in 2011 (an act he repeated this year), noting, “The act codified the existing executive practice of detaining terrorism suspects indefinitely without charge, and required that certain terrorism suspects be initially detained by the military if captured inside the U.S..”
Next week, the lawsuit against Obama over the NDAA’s definite detention provision will be back in federal court as plaintiffs including Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky seek an injunction prohibiting indefinite detention of civilians without charge or trial.
Comments from HRW’s McFarland point out what’s at stake for the president here: “The Obama administration has a chance in its second term to develop with Congress a real plan for closing Guantanamo and definitively ending abusive counterterrorism practices,” McFarland said. “A failure to do so puts Obama at risk of going down in history as the president who made indefinite detention without trial a permanent part of U.S. law.”
Source
The largest prison system in the world comes as a result of the continuing criminalization of Black & Brown youth, a failed war on drugs & poverty. This is how the New Jim Crow has manifested itself in communities of color all over the “land of the free”: 1.6 million prisoners & counting.

thepeoplesrecord:

Human Rights Watch decries U.S. prison system
January 31, 2013

Human Rights Watch Thursday published its annual World Report, in which it lays out a pointed critique of the U.S. prison system. The enormous prison population  — the largest in the world at 1.6 million — “partly reflects harsh sentencing practices contrary to international law,” notes the report.

The 2013 World Report, a 665-page tome which assesses human rights progress in the past year in 90 countries, highlights particular issues undergirding the U.S.’s blighted carceral system. It notes that “practices contrary to human rights principles, such as the death penalty, juvenile life-without-parole sentences, and solitary confinement are common and often marked by racial disparities.” Via HRW:

Research in 2012 found that the massive over-incarceration includes a growing number of elderly people whom prisons are ill-equipped to handle, and an estimated 93,000 youth under age 18 in adult jails and another 2,200 in adult prisons. Hundreds of children are subjected to solitary confinement. Racial and ethnic minorities remain disproportionately represented in the prison population.

HRW cite statistics often used to show racial disparities in the U.S. prison system. For example, while whites, African Americans and Latinos have comparable rates of drug use, African Americans are arrested for drug offenses, including possession, at three times the rate of white men.

“The United States has shown little interest in tackling abusive practices that have contributed to the country’s huge prison population,” said Maria McFarland, deputy U.S. program director at Human Rights Watch. “Unfortunately, it is society’s most vulnerable – racial and ethnic minorities, low-income people, immigrants, children, and the elderly – who are most likely to suffer from injustices in the criminal justice system.”

Although noting some progress in 2012 (both D.C. and Connecticut joined the ranks of 16 states to have abolished the death penalty), HRW also stressed continuing injustices in U.S. immigration policies, labor issues and treatment of minorities, women, the disabled and HIV positive individuals. The report was particularly critical when reviewing the U.S.’s counterterrorism policies. The NGO noted in a statement:

Both the Obama administration and Congress supported abusive counterterrorism laws and policies, including detention without charge at Guantanamo Bay, restrictions on the transfer of detainees held there, and prosecutions in a fundamentally flawed military commission system.  Attacks by US aerial drones were carried out in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and elsewhere, with important legal questions about the attacks remaining unanswered.

The administration has taken no steps toward accountability for torture and other abuses committed by US officials in the so-called “war on terror,” and a Justice Department criminal investigation into detainee abuse concluded without recommending any charges. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence completed a more than 6,000-page report detailing the CIA’s rendition, detention, and interrogation program, but has yet to seek the report’s declassification so it can be released to the public.

The World Report explicitly mentions Obama’s signing of the NDAA in 2011 (an act he repeated this year), noting, “The act codified the existing executive practice of detaining terrorism suspects indefinitely without charge, and required that certain terrorism suspects be initially detained by the military if captured inside the U.S..”

Next week, the lawsuit against Obama over the NDAA’s definite detention provision will be back in federal court as plaintiffs including Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky seek an injunction prohibiting indefinite detention of civilians without charge or trial.

Comments from HRW’s McFarland point out what’s at stake for the president here: “The Obama administration has a chance in its second term to develop with Congress a real plan for closing Guantanamo and definitively ending abusive counterterrorism practices,” McFarland said. “A failure to do so puts Obama at risk of going down in history as the president who made indefinite detention without trial a permanent part of U.S. law.”

Source

The largest prison system in the world comes as a result of the continuing criminalization of Black & Brown youth, a failed war on drugs & poverty. This is how the New Jim Crow has manifested itself in communities of color all over the “land of the free”: 1.6 million prisoners & counting.

(Source: thepeoplesrecord, via disciplesofmalcolm)

daintyblackpegasus:

TW: Abuse and Mistreatment of Prisoners

sweetsweetsweetdivinething:

ladyhistory:

bigcountryaz:

parentingautism:

For those not familiar with Joe Arpaio, he is the county sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. He keeps getting re-elected over and over again. These are some of the reasons why:

  • Sheriff Joe Arpaio created the “tent city jail” to save Arizona from spending tens of millions of dollars on another expensive prison complex; inmates sleep in tents!
  • He has jail meals down to 20 cents a serving and charges the inmates for them.
  • He banned smoking and pornographic magazines in the jails, took away their weightlifting equipment and cut off all but “G” movies. He says, “They’re in jail to pay a debt to society, not to build muscles so they can assault innocent people when they leave.”
  • He started chain gangs to use the inmates to do free work on county and city projects and save taxpayer’s money. Men work in pink “Clean(ing) and Sober” shirts. Their underwear is also pink!
  • Then he started chain gangs for women so he wouldn’t get sued for discrimination.
  • He took away cable TV until he found out there was a federal court order that required cable TV for jails. So he hooked up the cable TV again but only allows the Disney Channel and The Weather Channel. When asked why the weather channel, he replied, “So these morons will know how hot it’s gonna be while they are working on my chain gangs.”
  • He cut off coffee because it has zero nutritional value and is therefore a waste of taxpayer money. When the inmates complained, he told them, “This isn’t the Ritz. If you don’t like it, don’t come back.” 
  • He also bought the Newt Gingrich lecture series on US history that he pipes into the jails. When asked by a reporter if he had any lecture series by a Democrat, he replied that a democratic lecture series that actually tells the truth for a change would be welcome and that it might even explain why 95% of the inmates were in his jails in the first place.
  • With temperatures being even hotter than usual in Phoenix (116° F set a new record for June 2, 2009), the Associated Press reported that about 2,000 inmates living in a tent encampment surrounded by barbed wire at the Maricopa County Jail have been given permission to strip down to their government-issued pink boxer shorts. On that Wednesday, hundreds of men wearing pink boxer shorts were overheard chatting in the tents, where temperatures reached 128 degrees. “This is hell. It feels like we live in a furnace,” said Ernesto Gonzales, an inmate for 2 years with 10 more to go. “It’s inhumane.”
  • Joe Arpaio, who makes his prisoners wear pink and eat bologna sandwiches, is not one bit sympathetic. “Criminals should be punished for their crimes, not live in luxury until it’s time for parole, only to go out and commit more crimes so they can come back in to live on taxpayers money and enjoy things many taxpayers can’t afford to have for themselves.”
  • The same day he told all the inmates who were complaining of the heat in the tents: “It’s between 120 to 130 degrees in Iraq and our soldiers are living in tents there too, and they have to walk all day in that sun, wearing full battle gear and getting shot at, and THEY have not committed any crimes, so shut your damned mouths!”

Sheriff Joe was just re-elected for the fourteenth time as Sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona.

(via theblackcommunist)

Prison relieves us of the responsibility of seriously engaging with the problems of our society, especially those produced by racism and, increasingly, global capitalism.

Angela Davis

Some statistics/facts concerning the prison industrial complex:

  • More than two million people out of a world total of nine million now inhabit U.S. prisons, jails, youth facilities, and immigrant detention centers. In the late 1960s there were close to 200,000 people in prison in the United States. 
  • The U.S. population in general is less than 5% of the world’s total, whereas more than 20% of the world’s combined prison population can be claimed by the United States. Short of major wars, mass incarceration has been the most thoroughly implemented government social program of our time. 
  • In 2002, there were 157,979 people incarcerated in the state of California alone, including approximately 20,000 people whom the state holds for immigration violations. 
  • In 1990, a study of U.S. prison populations was published which concluded that 1 in 4 black men between the ages of 21-29 were in prison and jail and on parole or probation. Five years later, a second study revealed that this percentage had soared to almost 1 in 3. More than 1 in 10 Latino men of the same age were in jail or prison, or on probation or parole. The second study also revealed that the group experiencing the greatest increase was black women, whose imprisonment increased by 78%. 

(via eastafrodite)

(Source: maarnayeri, via existentialfunk-deactivated2013)

private-revolution:

thepeoplesrecord:

Study: Black male incarceration jumped 500% from 1986 to 2004November 12, 2012
A report has been released at Meharry Medical College School of Medicine about the devastating impact that mass incarceration has on our society.  The study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, is one of the most thorough examinations of the impact that mass incarceration has on the African American community.  The study’s authors argue that the billions of dollars being spent keeping non-violent offenders behind bars would be better spent on education and rehabilitation.
“Instead of getting health care and education from civil society, African American males are being funneled into the prison system. Much of this costly practice could be avoided in the long-term by transferring funds away from prisons and into education,” says Dr. William D Richie, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Meharry Medical College, lead author of the paper.
The study’s authors note that 60% of all incarcerations are due to non-violent, drug-related crimes. The authors also note that the cost of substance abuse in the United States is as high as half a trillion dollars per year.
“Spending money on prevention and intervention of substance abuse treatment programs will yield better results than spending on correctional facilities,” the authors claim in the study.
Finally, the authors note that while crime rates have declined over the last 20 years, incarceration rates has climbed through the roof. The inmates occupying these jail cells are disproportionately black.  In fact, the black male incarceration rate has jumped by 500% between 1986 the 2004.  The authors note that, even for those who don’t abuse drugs before going to prison, the likelihood of substance abuse after prison goes up dramatically.
You can read more of the study at this link
The mass incarceration epidemic affects all of us, even those who haven’t gone to prison: It affects the child who grows up without  a father who has been incarcerated, the children who are bullied at school by that child, the woman seeking a husband who can’t find a good man to marry, the list goes on and on.  When so many of our men are marginalized and incarcerated, this has a powerful impact on the sociological ecosystem of the black community, the same way an economy crumbles when a few large companies go bankrupt.
The point here is that we cannot look at the holocaust of mass incarceration as someone else’s problem or something that just affects criminals.  The punishment should fit the crime, and when every study imaginable says that black people are more likely to go to jail for the same crimes, this means that Jim Crow is alive and well.  Something must be done at the grassroots, state and federal levels.  We cannot allow this epidemic to exist any longer.
Source

If anyone’s surprised you should really read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. That is all. 

private-revolution:

thepeoplesrecord:

Study: Black male incarceration jumped 500% from 1986 to 2004
November 12, 2012

A report has been released at Meharry Medical College School of Medicine about the devastating impact that mass incarceration has on our society.  The study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, is one of the most thorough examinations of the impact that mass incarceration has on the African American community.  The study’s authors argue that the billions of dollars being spent keeping non-violent offenders behind bars would be better spent on education and rehabilitation.

“Instead of getting health care and education from civil society, African American males are being funneled into the prison system. Much of this costly practice could be avoided in the long-term by transferring funds away from prisons and into education,” says Dr. William D Richie, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Meharry Medical College, lead author of the paper.

The study’s authors note that 60% of all incarcerations are due to non-violent, drug-related crimes. The authors also note that the cost of substance abuse in the United States is as high as half a trillion dollars per year.

“Spending money on prevention and intervention of substance abuse treatment programs will yield better results than spending on correctional facilities,” the authors claim in the study.

Finally, the authors note that while crime rates have declined over the last 20 years, incarceration rates has climbed through the roof. The inmates occupying these jail cells are disproportionately black.  In fact, the black male incarceration rate has jumped by 500% between 1986 the 2004.  The authors note that, even for those who don’t abuse drugs before going to prison, the likelihood of substance abuse after prison goes up dramatically.

You can read more of the study at this link

The mass incarceration epidemic affects all of us, even those who haven’t gone to prison: It affects the child who grows up without  a father who has been incarcerated, the children who are bullied at school by that child, the woman seeking a husband who can’t find a good man to marry, the list goes on and on.  When so many of our men are marginalized and incarcerated, this has a powerful impact on the sociological ecosystem of the black community, the same way an economy crumbles when a few large companies go bankrupt.

The point here is that we cannot look at the holocaust of mass incarceration as someone else’s problem or something that just affects criminals.  The punishment should fit the crime, and when every study imaginable says that black people are more likely to go to jail for the same crimes, this means that Jim Crow is alive and well.  Something must be done at the grassroots, state and federal levels.  We cannot allow this epidemic to exist any longer.

Source

If anyone’s surprised you should really read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. That is all. 

(Source: thepeoplesrecord, via ethiopienne)

art-justice-and-equality:

  • The NAACP says state efforts to block ex-felons from voting is discriminatory.
  • An estimated 5.8 million people do not have the right to vote.
  • Nationally, 38% of the people disenfrachised due to felony convictions are African-American
  • In Florida nearly 1 out of every 5 black men overall is ineligible to vote
  • NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous further discusses the activism in Florida

(via nolandwithoutstones)

The notion that a vast gulf exists between “criminals” and those of us who have never served time in prison is a fiction created by the racial ideology that birthed mass incarceration, namely that there is something fundamentally wrong and morally inferior about “them.” The reality, though, is that all of us have done wrong. [Studies] suggest that most Americans violate drug laws in their lifetime. Indeed, most of us break the law not once but repeatedly throughout our lives. Yet only some of us will be arrested, charged, convicted of a crime, branded a criminal or felon, and ushered into a permanent undercaste. Who becomes a social pariah and excommunicated from civil society and who trots off to college bears scant relationship to the morality of crimes committed. Who is more blameworthy: the young black kid who hustles on the street corner, selling weed to help his momma pay the rent? Or the college kid who deals drugs out of his dorm room to finance his spring break? Who should we fear? The kid in the ‘hood who joined a gang and now carries a gun for security, because his neighborhood is frightening and unsafe? Or the suburban high school student who has a drinking problem but keeps getting behind the wheel? Our racially biased system of mass incarceration exploits the fact that all people break the law and make mistakes at various points in their lives and with varying degrees of justification. Screwing up—failing to live by one’s highest ideals and values—is part of what makes us human.

—Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow (via humanformat)

(Source: bacchant, via whiskeyleaks)

Being poor itself is not yet a crime, but in at least a third of the states, being in debt can now land you in jail. If a creditor like a landlord or credit card company has a court summons issued for you and you fail to show up on your appointed court date, a warrant will be issued for your arrest. And it is easy enough to miss a court summons, which may have been delivered to the wrong address or, in the case of some bottom-feeding bill collectors, simply tossed in the garbage — a practice so common that the industry even has a term for it: “sewer service.” In a sequence that National Public Radio reports is “increasingly common,” a person is stopped for some minor traffic offense — having a noisy muffler, say, or broken brake light — at which point the officer discovers the warrant and the unwitting offender is whisked off to jail.

truth-has-a-liberal-bias:

Welcome to Books To Prisoners!
*******
Books To Prisoners (BTP) is a Seattle-based, all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that sends books to prisoners in the United States.  BTP believes that books are tools for learning and opening minds to new ideas and possibilities.  By sending books to prisoners, we hope to foster a love of reading and encourage the pursuit of knowledge and self-improvement.
Want to donate your new or used books?
You can help a prisoner by donating new or used paperback books to BTP.

Which books are needed?

truth-has-a-liberal-bias:

Welcome to Books To Prisoners!

*******

Books To Prisoners (BTP) is a Seattle-based, all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that sends books to prisoners in the United States.  BTP believes that books are tools for learning and opening minds to new ideas and possibilities.  By sending books to prisoners, we hope to foster a love of reading and encourage the pursuit of knowledge and self-improvement.

Want to donate your new or used books?

You can help a prisoner by donating new or used paperback books to BTP.

socialuprooting:

Torture in U.S. Prisons? Historic Senate Hearing Takes Up Human Toll of Solitary Confinement


In the first-ever hearing of its kind, a Senate panel heard testimony this week on the psychological and human rights implications of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. While defenders of solitary confinement claim it is needed to control the most violent prisoners, many of the people called to testify at the hearing described how it can cause intense suffering and mental illness. We’re joined by Anthony Graves, a former Texas prisoner who was fully exonerated of a murder conviction after spending 18 years behind bars, the bulk of that time on death row and in solitary confinement; and by James Ridgeway, a veteran journalist and co-editor of Solitary Watch, a website that tracks solitary confinement and torture in American prisons.


Watch part 2 of our interview with Anthony Graves: http://youtu.be/6WAGnK6tyYs

Eric, Ralowe, and I left Jersey for Philly, and at UPenn Eric had a public conversation with Angela Davis, the scholar and former outlaw who came out publicly as lesbian in a 1997 issue of Out magazine. It was one of the first events where Angela, who does countless speaking engagements every year, spoke exclusively to the problems facing LGBTQ people in prison. She warned against prison reform as a cure for these problems: “We don’t want to have a curriculum on gender and ‘transgender’ that is going to in some way promote the permanency of incarcerated genders, but rather one that leads to abolition.”