CMUs/Prison Conditions

  • The Terre Haute experiment

    Source: Indianapolis Monthly. A black box inside one of the nation’s most notorious federal penitentiaries, Terre Haute’s D-Unit is entering a second decade—and third presidential administration. It’s home to some of the nation’s most high-profile and controversially confined inmates of the War on Terror. A majority of them are Muslim. With the specter of Islamophobia hanging over the nation, human rights activists who have fought the Kafkaesque study in isolation now wonder: Are things about to get a whole lot worse?

  • With final detainee transfer, Obama’s Guantanamo policy takes its last breath

    CMUs/Prison Conditions December 28, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: The Washington Post. The Obama administration has informed Congress of its plans to resettle as many as 19 detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in a final sprint to pare down the inmate population at the military prison, U.S. officials said. Even if the transfers occur before Jan. 20 as planned, about 40 inmates will remain at the facility.

  • Who’s in solitary confinement?

    CMUs/Prison Conditions November 30, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: The Marshall Project. The Arthur Liman Public Interest Program at Yale first collected data from state and federal corrections officials in 2014 and again, in more detail, last year, taking what amounts to a comprehensive census on the use of solitary confinement in the U.S. Researchers found that in the fall of 2015, at least 67,442 U.S. prisoners were kept in some kind of restricted housing. (That includes prisoners held in “double-cell solitary,” where they are locked down with another inmate.) Demographic data from the new survey shows that on average, prisoners of color were slightly overrepresented in solitary confinement when compared with the overall prison population. But in some states, this disparity is particularly stark. In California state prisons, Hispanic men make up 42 percent of male prisoners, but 86 percent of male prisoners in restricted housing.

  • The torture mindset of the United States

    Source: Truthout. The use of torture in and by the US is not a post-9/11 phenomenon. The CIA’s long history of involvement in torture, and the ongoing investigation into Chicago police torture at Homan Square say otherwise. The purpose has never been discipline or interrogation, but control. In Angola in 2008, Herman Wallace wrote: “The government tries out its torture techniques on prisoners in the US — just far enough to see how society will react. It doesn’t take long before they unleash their techniques on society as a whole.” The experiments on CIA prisoners can be viewed in the same vein.June 26 this year, as it has been every year since 1998, is “UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.” With respect to the US and torture, there has really only been one major change in post-9/11 landscape: US domestic torture practices have been globalized and franchised.

  • The classified home movies of Guantanamo Bay

    Source: The Gawker. This week the public records clearinghouse Government Attic published a newly declassified, 102-page list of the DMA’s vast, secret media library. It contains roughly 30 pages of descriptions of videos, still images, and audio recordings taken at the terrorist prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, constituting hundreds of recordings that the public has never before seen, and, so long as they remain classified for reasons of national security, likely never will see. Among them appear to be recordings of detainee interrogations that military officials have previously claimed were never filmed.

  • The CIA waterboarded the wrong man 83 times in 1 month

    Source: The Nation. None of the allegations against Abu Zubaydeh turned out to be true. That didn’t stop the CIA from torturing him for years. He had the dubious luck to be the subject of a number of CIA “firsts”: the first post–9/11 prisoner to be waterboarded; the first to be experimented on by psychologists working as CIA contractors; one of the first of the Agency’s “ghost prisoners”.  And as far as we know, he is still in solitary detention in Guantánamo.

  • Illinois seeks to limit use of solitary confinement

    Source: Associated Press. Illinois lawmakers are pushing prisons to restrict the use of solitary confinement, joining a national movement that has policymakers rethinking the longstanding form of punishment that critics say has a profound psychological impact on inmates.Legislation sponsored by Democratic Rep. La Shawn Ford, of Chicago, would limit solitary confinement to no more than five consecutive days and five total days during a 150-day period. That would be a dramatic change from the current rules, which allow prisons to isolate inmates for weeks or years at a time.

  • Hunger striker whose weight dropped to 74 lbs released from Guantánamo to Saudi Arabia

    Source: Center for Constitutional Rights. Today, the Department of Defense announced the transfer to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) clients Tariq Ba Odah, a longtime hunger-striking Guantánamo prisoner, and Mohammed Al-Hamiri, along with seven other prisoners. Both Mr. Ba Odah and Mr. Al-Hamiri were cleared for release more than five years ago. Mr. Ba Odah had been on hunger strike since 2007 – over nine years – to protest his indefinite detention and conditions of confinement at Guantánamo. Over the last year of his imprisonment, his weight hovered at just 74 pounds, 56 percent of his ideal body weight.

  • Solitary confinement out of control in Florida prisons: Letter to U.S. Department of Justice calls for investigation

    Source: Solitary Watch. Florida has one of the highest rates of solitary confinement in the nation, at one eighth of the total state prison population. Florida’s usage of solitary is extreme not only in its scale, but also its implementation, with African Americans and individuals with mental illness significantly overrepresented in isolation. Florida’s prisons and juvenile detention centers also confine minors erratically and without much oversight. The state’s solitary confinement units have also played a role in several high profile deaths in recent years. This month, a group of Florida civil rights and mental health advocates, religious leaders, and journalists sent a letter to the U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, asking for investigation into Florida prisons’ overuse of solitary confinement, their potentially discriminatory implementation of solitary, and their abuse of incarcerated individuals.

  • The deadly consequences of solitary with a cellmate

    Source: The Marshall Project. In all this discussion about the harmful effects of segregation, solitary is often described as the isolation of one person in a cell, ignoring the many who, like Bernard Simmons and David Sesson, are locked in a tiny room together for nearly 24 hours a day. While there are no national statistics on the number of people confined in double-cell “solitary,” at least 18 states double-up a portion of their restrictive housing, and over 80 percent of the 10,747 federal prisoners in solitary have a cellmate.The cells are more cramped, the inmates’ movements, more limited. There’s the unrelenting pressure of living with another, potentially mentally ill or dangerous person — a pressure that can fester into paranoia and rage.