Virginia prison officials say they eliminated solitary confinement. Inmates say they just gave it a new name. - Virginia Mercury
Virginia prison officials say they eliminated solitary confinement. Inmates say they just gave it a new name. 'It's all very Hannibal Lecter-ish'
Virginia Mercury by Ned Oliver
January 14, 2019
Virginia prison officials say they’re on the leading edge of corrections reform for “operating without the use of solitary confinement.”
But Derek Cornelison, a 34-year-old inmate at Red Onion, one of the state’s two supermax prisons in Wise County, says he and dozens of other prisoners have remained isolated in tiny cells for 22 to 24 hours a day for years — a level of confinement increasingly viewed as cruel, inhumane and a violation of international human rights standards.
The Love Story that Upended the Texas Prison System
Texas Monthly by Ethan Watters
October 11, 2018
In 1967, a 56-year-old lawyer met a young inmate with a brilliant mind and horrifying stories about life inside. Their complicated alliance—and even more complicated romance—would shed light on a nationwide scandal, disrupt a system of abuse and virtual slavery across the state, and change incarceration in Texas forever.
On November 9, 1967, Fred Cruz was in his sixth year of a fifteen-year robbery sentence and starting yet another stint in the hole. Of the many punishments the Texas prison system doled out to inmates, solitary confinement was one of the most brutal on the body and the soul. It wasn’t Cruz’s first time there, but it wasn’t something one got used to. The Ellis Unit, about fourteen miles north of Huntsville in a boggy lowland area of East Texas, was known as the toughest prison in the system, and there was no worse place to be in Ellis than solitary.
The cell’s darkness was so complete it made the eyes ache. On some occasions, Cruz was given a thin blanket and nothing else—no clothes and no mattress for the steel bunk. His toilet was a hole in the floor. He’d receive only three slices of bread a day with a full meal twice a week, and had shed multiple pounds from his already thin frame. After two weeks, an outer door to the cell would be opened, allowing in light from the hallway. This would be considered a “release” from solitary. Then the warden or an officer would come by and assess the sincerity of Cruz’s contrition. If he failed that yes-sir-no-sir encounter, the solid steel door would be shut again and the days of darkness would recommence.
Investigation into inmate’s suicide faults Maryland women’s prison’s treatment of people with disabilities : Washington Post
Investigation into inmate’s suicide faults Maryland women’s prison’s treatment of people with disabilities
Washington Post By Lillian Reed
An investigation into Maryland’s only prison for women following the 2017 suicide of an inmate found the facility violated the constitutional rights of people with disabilities who are placed in segregation and did not take sufficient steps to “prevent future harm.”
The investigation, released Friday by Disability Rights Maryland, reviewed the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women and its role in the death of inmate Emily Butler, who was found dead in her cell from an apparent suicide on Nov. 12, 2017. The investigative report details several findings and recommends changes on how the prison can better handle inmates with disabilities.
Disability Rights Maryland is the state’s designated authority under federal law for conducting investigations into allegations of abuse and negligence for people with disabilities. The group, along with Munib Lohrasbi of the Open Society Institute of Baltimore, launched a review after Butler’s death in segregation.
North Dakota Prison Officials Think Outside The Box To Revamp Solitary Confinement
NPR :: July 31, 2018 :: Cheryl Corley
Thousands of inmates serve some of their time in solitary confinement, locked down in small cells for up to 23 hours a day. North Dakota is changing its thinking on this segregated housing.
There are slightly more than 2 million people incarcerated in the United States — that's nearly equal to the entire population of Houston. Among those prisoners, thousands serve time in solitary confinement, isolated in small often windowless cells for 22 to 24 hours a day. Some remain isolated for weeks, months or even years. ...
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When They Get Out: how prisons
Atlantic (1999) by Sasha Abramsky
Popular perceptions about crime have blurred the boundaries between fact and politically expedient myth. The myth is that the United States is besieged, on a scale never before encountered, by a pathologically criminal underclass. The fact is that we're not. After spiraling upward during the drug wars, murder rates began falling in the mid-1990s; they are lower today than they were more than twenty years ago. In some cities the murder rate in the late twentieth century is actually lower than it was in the nineteenth century. Nonviolent property-crime rates are in general lower in the United States today than in Great Britain, and are comparable to those in many European countries.
Solitary Confinement Is Used to Break People :: by Monica Cosby
Originally printed in TruthOut
There are many names for solitary confinement. In the Illinois prisons where I was incarcerated, it was called "segregation," but most of the women called it "seg" or "jail." No matter the language, it is all solitary -- and it is torture.
Solitary confinement is being locked in a cell alone and segregated from the general population of the prison for 23 hours a day. More often than not, the allowed hour out does not happen. Meals are delivered through a slot in the door, which is kept locked except during the delivery of meals, mail and medication. Being in solitary means being handcuffed for transport to the shower or a visit.
Depending on where in the building the cell is, there may be a window. Often these windows are painted or clouded over, but some windows can be opened and occasionally there is a window that one can actually see through. No spontaneous phone calls are permitted, no matter the circumstances: Prescheduled calls from a lawyer are the only type of calls allowed.
Most people who've never been to prison do not understand what solitary means, or how it affects those who are isolated and their families. Far too many people buy into the myth that only the "worst of the worst" are placed there, but this just is not so.
Does Solitary Make Inmates More Likely To Reoffend - Frontline
by ANJALI TSUI Abrams Journalism Fellow,
As a teenager, Adam Brulotte relished the attention he received from getting into fights at parties. When he was 18 years old, he was arrested for burglary and aggravated assault after punching a man and breaking his jaw in seven places.
Brulotte arrived in Maine State Prison in 2012 to serve a two year sentence for violating his probation.
There, he was sent to solitary confinement for starting a riot on his cell block. During the approximately four months he spent in isolation, Brulotte cut himself, flooded his cell with toilet water and pushed feces under his door. Each incident earned him more time in solitary confinement.
Once he was released, Brulotte tried to find a sense of normalcy. He started dating, got a job at a local convenience store but soon ended up back in jail for driving without a license, an assault and failing to pay court fines.
“It leaves a scar on you that you won’t forget and you can’t heal … you get flashbacks and anxiety,” he said of solitary.
SOLITARY BY THE NUMBERS
April 18, 2017 / by Dan Nolan and Chris Amico :: Frontline
Solitary confinement goes by many names: restricted housing, segregation, isolation. Prisoners are separated from the general population, held in their cells for 22 to 24 hours a day, for at least 15 consecutive days.
In every state and nearly every prison, solitary is used to punish, to prevent, and sometimes for prisoners’ own protection.
There is a growing consensus among policymakers, corrections officials and criminal justice experts that it’s overused, and that it can do more harm than good. More than 30 states are now attempting solitary reforms.
Solitary Nation - April 22, 2014
With extraordinary access this film takes you to the epicenter of the raging debate about prison reform. Solitary Nation brings you an up-close, graphic look at a solitary confinement unit in Maine’s maximum security prison.
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Breaking Down the Box
"Breaking Down the Box" examines the mental health, racial justice and human rights implications of the systemic use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. It is a call to action for communities of faith to engage in the growing nationwide movement for restorative alternatives to isolated confinement that prioritize rehabilitation, therapeutic interventions, and recovery.
The 40-minute documentary was produced by filmmaker Matthew Gossage. More resources at nrcat.org
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Learning asks us to change – so that the world might be a place for all are free to thrive