Seven Days in Solitary (6/23/13) – Weekly news roundup on solitary confinement


June 23, 2013 | Lisa Dawson for Solitary Watch

The following roundup features noteworthy news, reports and opinions on solitary confinement from the past week that have not been covered in other Solitary Watch posts.

•  According to the tally kept by The Miami Herald, 104 of the 166 men held captive at Guantanamo are now on hunger strike, with 44 being force-fed and one hospitalized. The New York Times reports that the Senate Armed Services Committee has approved a bill that would lift a ban on bringing detainees into the U.S., which would give President Obama increased flexibility in implementing measures to close the detention camp.

•  WGBH News reports on the problems associated with putting people in prison in solitary confinement with guests Leslie Walker, prisoners’ rights advocate, and Jose Bou, who served 10 years in prison, two of which were spent in isolation. The show touches on the high cost of holding people in isolation, the psychological damage inflicted on those subjected and the fact that the practice is not rehabilitative.

•   KPFA 94.1-FM Berkeley reports that opponents of solitary confinement and other inhumane prison conditions rallied in downtown LA in anticipation of the upcoming hunger strikes, which are scheduled to resume July 8, 2013, in prisons across California. 

•  The Boston Globe reports that lawmakers in Massachusetts have introduced a bill that would limit the use of solitary confinement in state prisons, allowing people with lengthy sentences to be given more rehabilitation. The bill would also limit isolation sentences to six months “for all but the most extraordinary circumstances.”

•  The ACLU reports that civil and human rights groups are calling on the U.S. government to allow Juan Méndez, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture, to examine the use of solitary confinement in the United States. The coalition’s letter, addressed to the U.S.Department of State says, “We write to urge you to extend an invitation to Professor Juan Méndez… to conduct a fact-finding mission to examine the use of solitary confinement.”

•  WBAI Radio reports on the harmful effects of solitary confinement with guest Scott Paltrowitz of the Correctional Association of New York. Paltrowitz discusses the abusive use of isolation in New York prisons, common behaviors resulting in sentences to solitary (the vast majority of which are for non-violent offenses) and damaging mental health effects associated with the practice.

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