SPOTLIGHT: SUPPORTING SOLITARY FOR MANAFORT MEANS SUPPORTING IT FOR EVERYONE
The Appeal: Vaidya Gullapalli
June 05, 2019
Yesterday the news broke that Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign head who was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison on federal charges, will now face criminal charges in state court in Manhattan. The New York Times reports that Manafort will most likely be held at Rikers Island, segregated from the general population. Though it is not clear that Manafort would be confined to his cell even if he is isolated, many reports have said he will be in “solitary confinement.”
Tens of thousands of people, by conservative estimates, spend their days in solitary confinement cells in jails and prisons across the United States. (An oft-cited estimate of 61,000 people in isolation nationwide is understood, including by those who arrived at it, to be a substantial undercount.) But it made news that Manafort was expected to be sent to Rikers and isolated.
Some responded with satisfaction to the report that a previously powerful rich white man, closely associated with the president, would be subjected to the same abuse as masses of poor Black and brown people. But that response is an example of how ending injustice can seem so impossible that our hopes warp into a desire to expand injustice.
The problem is not that the Manaforts of the world don’t usually spend time in solitary, or in prison. The problem is that tens of thousands of people around the country sit in what are, effectively, torture chambers.
New York City’s Bail Success Story
The Marshall Project By ELI HAGER
March 14, 2019
Judges have drastically cut back on bail and jail in criminal cases, a new study shows. And defendants are still showing up in court.
Like many states, New York has a bail law that is half a century old. The legal rules that in 2010 made it possible for 16-year-old Kalief Browder to be jailed on Rikers Island for three years for allegedly stealing a backpack—just because his family couldn’t pay $3,000 in bail to get him out—all remain on the books.
Criminal justice reformers around the country are admonishing the Empire State to change its system, arguing that having to pay money to get out of jail unfairly targets the poor. And a newly elected Democratic majority in Albany is eager to heed those calls, as lawmakers this month pore over the final details of a bill that would make New York the third state to virtually abolish money bail.
The Feminist in Cellblock Y
Richard Edmond Vargas, also known as "Richie Reseda" is a convicted felon who has been serving time in an all-male prison in Soledad, California, for armed robbery since he was a teen. "The Feminist on Cellblock Y," a documentary produced by filmmaker Contessa Gayles, follows the now 25-year-old Reseda and his fellow prison mates as they participate in an inmate rehabilitation program centered around feminist literature.
It's said in the documentary, "a lot of them come out even worse than they were before," referring to the inmates. In order to counter that particular manifestation, these men spend their days learning about the patriarchy, discovering the power of vulnerability, and personally combating toxic masculinity. Additionally, the program encourages the men to confront all of the areas where these toxic ideals of masculinity have prevailed in their lives. "We cannot challenge our harmful behavior without challenging patriarchy," Reseda says in the film.
UU Prison Ministry - New Self Led Learning Pages
The following are collections of articles, videos, and books that are the first step in seeing beyond the reality that the dominant culture believes is the only reality. Learning asks us to change – so that the world might be a place where all are free to thrive.
New pages include article, Books and multi media entries to help us all learn more about this egregious system and the call to reform.
Never Sentenced, Never Released
Frontline by Max Green
Terry Allen was 23 when he was arrested for an alleged sexual assault. Although he was never convicted of the crime, Allen was sent to an Illinois prison, where he has remained for nearly four decades with no release date.
Across the country, hundreds of people are incarcerated without convictions for the alleged acts that landed them in prison. Reporter Max Green tells the story of one such man.
The Jail Healthcare Crisis
The New Yorker by Steve Coll
The opioid epidemic and other public health emergencies are being aggravated by failings in the criminal-justice system.
As a child growing up in Pueblo, Colorado, Jeremy Laintz travelled widely with his father, an aeronautics engineer at Lockheed Martin, who sometimes took his four kids along on business trips. Family vacations included tours of aerospace facilities and, on one occasion, a trip to watch a space-shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral. Laintz’s mother managed a bakery, and Laintz, the youngest child in the family, recalled enjoying a warm home life. He played soccer and football, and spent summers hunting and fishing on a ranch that his family owned in North Dakota. As a teen-ager, though, he slipped into trouble—he was arrested first for driving under the influence, and then, in his late teens, for felony car theft. He spent a year in prison, where he learned to weld, and a few more years in halfway houses. Then, in 2003, he moved to Alaska, where he joined a Christian fellowship and took seasonal jobs welding, repairing roofs, and working in a fish-processing plant. He often made good money, and his life seemed back on track.
Six years later, though, when he was thirty, he returned to Colorado and, while working in a warehouse, tore a tendon in his wrist. A doctor prescribed opioids for the pain, and Laintz immediately started abusing them. Then a friend persuaded him to try heroin, and soon he was addicted. He was arrested on a charge of possession and, while out on bond, in early October of 2016, failed to show up for a court-ordered drug test. He was arrested again and booked into the Pueblo County jail.
Many people view inmates from a very limited perspective, looking at only a single point in their lives. My origami sculpture represents that I am more than a singular point in time. I am so much more that just that one piece. It is a representation of how each piece of my life is intricately woven and interconnected to the others, all interdependent on each other, forming a complex, multidimensional whole.
This sculpture is composed on 60 pieces of folded paper. The composition of this sculpture has symmetry. As a representation of myself, each piece of paper is interconnected to form a dynamic whole that gets its strength using nothing more than its individual pieces to hold it together. Each piece has its own power, each slightly different from the other, but all necessary for the balance and equilibrium of the whole.
The paper colors were chosen to represent the different aspects of my life some very bright and flowery, some contrasting, others complementary. The black piece represents the tragic circumstances that brought me to prison.
It is my hope that this sculpture will help to remind others to acknowledge the full complexity of all the pieces that shape our lives. EVERYONE has a complex life story. None of us should be judged solely by the piece that is the worst thing we’ve done. We are so much more than that.
A little about this origami technique: my paper sculpture was made by assembling folded paper modules into an integrated, 3-dimensional form, a technique that’s known as modular origami. This sculpture is based on a paper crystal design created in 1989 by David Mitchell.
Biography: I am a 61 year-old woman, incarcerated since 1999 for a triple murder. I’m serving a natural life sentence without the possibility of parole. I’m a first-time offender with no criminal history in my background.
As I tried to represent with my artwork, I’ve had a complex and convoluted journey leading to my incarceration. I was diagnosed with major depression and a serious adverse side effect of the prescribed antidepressant played a major role in my crime.
I started doing origami in prison as a creative outlet. I’ve become an origami enthusiast and have shared the joy of origami with other inmates by facilitating many origami activities.
Prison inmate describes conditions during 23-Day lockdown.
Channel 3000 News by Jamie Perez
February 7, 2019
"Although they told you guys we were getting hot meals, it took at least a week before we got a hot meal," Dontrell LeFlore said. "That was only Monday through Friday. We were asking them, 'What's up with the weekend?' And they were like, 'Well, no hot meals on the weekend.' It was hard to get this information out because we couldn't call home. We were scared to write because they open up our mail before it goes out. Now speaking out, I'm putting myself at risk. Being cut off from the world like that, that has never happened. In my 19 years in prison, I have never spent that much time without access to a phone or a visit."
JHA Special Report: Kewanee The Inaugural IDOC Life Skills Reentry Center Facility Report
John Howard Association of Illinois
The John Howard Association of Illinois (JHA) had our first official visit to the Kewanee Life Skills Reentry Center (LSRC) in April 2018, about a year after it opened in mid-February 2017 with the first 10 men housed within Kewanee LSRC (Kewanee) as an Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) facility.1 Population at Kewanee on the date of the April 2018 visit was 215, nearly double the population of 130 men housed at the facility a few months earlier at the beginning of 2018.2 The operational, or bed-space, capacity at Kewanee has been reported differently, from 538 to 648.3 Administrators stated that they expected to soon increase population to 280 when a third housing unit is opened. However, the facility capacity remains undecided, as increasing the population to the reported operational capacity is not yet considered feasible while maintaining program integrity.4 Kewanee’s population made up just about .5% of the approximately 41,060 people incarcerated within IDOC; nonetheless, the novel work of this facility merits review.
Kewanee had been an Illinois Youth Center run by the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) until the closure of that facility in June 2016. JHA had called for the closure of the facility for youth for several years due to chronic issues and the low population throughout IDJJ.5 However, JHA strongly supported repurposing the facility for adults, in part because it has a much newer and better physical plant than most adult facilities,6 and to provide specialized services sorely lacking throughout IDOC.7 Ultimately, with Kewanee, Illinois chose to try something that had been talked about for years and encouraged by many including JHA, to use the facility to provide intensive programming and reentry preparation for those who were at a higher risk to recidivate.8 As Kewanee administrators explained, they don’t want “the best of the best,” or people who are already at a low level of risk to reoffend, and who are not coming back anyway, because providing intensive reentry programming for that population will not make as much of a difference.
JHA also notes that providing more humane treatment and productive programming undoubtably will benefit both individuals and society.
What this is about
Learning asks us to change – so that the world might be a place for all are free to thrive