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Thu May 8, 2014, 06:15 AM

Amy Goodman: Solitary Confinement Is Not the Answer


from truthdig:


Solitary Confinement Is Not the Answer

Posted on May 7, 2014
By Amy Goodman


There has been much attention, and rightly so, on the CIA’s extensive use of torture, which the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is said to have documented in its still-classified 6,000-page report. The use of torture is not limited to the CIA, however. It is all too common across the United States. Solitary confinement is torture, and it is used routinely in jails, prisons and immigration detention facilities here at home. Grass-roots movements that have been pressuring for change are beginning to yield significant results. The coalitions include prisoners, their families, a broad swath of legal and social-justice groups and, increasingly, prison guards and officials themselves.

One official who worked to reduce the use of solitary confinement was Tom Clements. The executive director of Colorado’s Department of Corrections, Clements was at home on March 19, 2013, when his doorbell rang. As he opened the door, he was gunned down, murdered by Evan Ebel, who had been released from solitary confinement directly to the street less than two months earlier. The small, nonprofit Colorado Independent was the only outlet to link the murder to the psychological damage that Ebel suffered in solitary confinement. Another ex-prisoner who corresponded with Ebel disclosed text messages with him, shortly before Ebel killed Clements. One text read, “im just feeling peculiar & the only way i know i know to remedy that is via use of ‘violence.’”

Ironically, Clements was trying, successfully, to reform Colorado’s solitary-confinement policies, referred to there as “administrative segregation.” A year before his murder, Clements told The Colorado Independent’s Susan Greene, “There’s a lot of research around solitary and isolation in recent years, some tied to POWs and some to corrections ... long periods of isolation can be counter-productive to stable behavior and long-term rehabilitation goals.” He was concerned with the direct release of prisoners from solitary back into the community, a practice that likely contributed to his murder. His successor, Rick Raemisch, continues to pursue the reforms started by Tom Clements. Raemisch subjected himself to over 20 hours in solitary, and emerged even more committed to changing the system.

Juan Mendez, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, issued a special report on solitary confinement in 2011, concluding “Segregation, isolation, separation, cellular, lockdown, Supermax, the hole, Secure Housing Unit (SHU) ... whatever the name, solitary confinement should be banned by states as a punishment or extortion technique.” His latest full report on global torture includes several noted alleged excesses by the United States, including abusive solitary confinement practiced from Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay to New York state, Louisiana and California. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/solitary_confinement_is_not_the_answer_20140507



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Reply Amy Goodman: Solitary Confinement Is Not the Answer (Original post)
marmar May 2014 OP
xchrom May 2014 #1
seveneyes May 2014 #2
morningfog May 2014 #3
seveneyes May 2014 #4
pipoman May 2014 #5
TorchTheWitch May 2014 #7
NobodyHere May 2014 #8
morningfog May 2014 #9
ColesCountyDem May 2014 #6

Response to marmar (Original post)

Thu May 8, 2014, 06:18 AM

1. du rec.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Thu May 8, 2014, 06:28 AM

2. It should only be used on those that would cause harm to others

 

Not used to punish victimless crimes.

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Response to seveneyes (Reply #2)

Thu May 8, 2014, 06:41 AM

3. It should never be used beyond a few days, even on those who have harmed others.

 

It is torture.

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Response to morningfog (Reply #3)

Thu May 8, 2014, 06:46 AM

4. If someone is intent on harming anyone they come near

 

Then they must be kept away from others. I'm not talking about "the box" or some dark, secluded torture chamber. Just a place where they can never harm someone else.

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Response to morningfog (Reply #3)

Thu May 8, 2014, 07:32 AM

5. I disagree

 

I would absolutely agree if all inmates were just trying to serve their time. This isn't the case. There are many who live to victimize others and resume victimizing at any opportunity. There are individuals and groups within the prison system who run extensive criminal enterprises spanning multiple facilities. Drugs, prostitution, gambling, murder for hire, and every other vice imaginable. Again, not localized. To the vast majority of the population, what happens in the prison system is both unbelievable and unimaginable.

Instead of some blanket determination of no more solitary. ..I'm not sure why this is an issue and institutionalized violence isn't the focus.

Many, especially first time offenders, go in with a desire to peacefully serve their time and work toward release. Many would accept educational opportunities and job skill training. When they get there they are slammed into a population ran by victimizers. They have to either allow victimizing or join a gang for protection. Once in a gang they are labeled "disruptive group members" by the system resulting in extentions of sentences, and a lifetime commitment to the gang. Guards fear for their own safety and that of their families resulting in enabling of the gangs. In the federal system there are people, government employees who are charged with extending people's sentences. They do this by putting people in impossible situations, then punishing them for reacting.

The system is severely broken and solitary is the tiniest tip of the iceberg.

The more effective reform would be to have facilities devoted to education and training for all first time offenders where victimization isn't tolerated. And separate facilities for victimizers. If we polled the population about what they would fear most about going to prison, the number one answer by far would be victimization by other inmates. That is sad and unbelievably corrupt. It is no wonder that recidivism is as high as it is. ..solitary adds to that but isn't the largest problem by far.

I spent many years as a licensed defense investigator, have interviewed many inmates and visited many prisons both state and federal. Prison reform is long overdue, concentration on the tiniest issue to the exclusion of the far bigger issues will not begin to fix the problems...imho..

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Response to morningfog (Reply #3)

Thu May 8, 2014, 09:34 AM

7. it is indeed

I don't even like it as a punishment for a few days.

I don't even understand why we're doing it in the first place. We figured out a long time ago that the Eastern State Penitentiary idea didn't make prisoners rehabilitate, it made them insane and why they finally stopped so much of the practices of silence and isolation.



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Response to morningfog (Reply #3)

Thu May 8, 2014, 10:26 AM

8. Have you ever been to prison?

 

There are basically three types of prisoners:

Those who want to use their time productively to improve themselves

Those who want to get by and get out

And those who want to f^&% the world and make everyone else as miserable as they are.


The last group often have anger issues and are quick to use their fists in response to an argument. When you're living with the same group of people day after day with little refuge there will be arguments.

Living with people who will hurt you with little provocation doesn't help with rehabilitation.

So I'm for solitary confinement for those who cause violence while behind bars.

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Response to NobodyHere (Reply #8)

Thu May 8, 2014, 11:55 AM

9. I've been in many prisons and met all types of prisoners. My position is based on those

 

experiences.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Thu May 8, 2014, 08:53 AM

6. Our county sheriff RARELY uses 'solitary'.

Last edited Thu May 8, 2014, 09:38 AM - Edit history (1)

Our sheriff uses 'solitary confinement' rarely. When he does use it, it is almost always as a response to an inmate's violent or predatory behavior. He also separates 'vulnerable' inmates from the rest of the jail population and-- common sense moment-- tries to reduce unnecessary stress by a.) feeding inmates adequate amounts of nutritious, palatable food, b.) provides inmates with the maximum amount of daily 'yard time' possible, c.) rewards inmates' GOOD behavior with increased privileges and d.) cooperated with both the States Attorney and the county's resident Presiding Judge to develop a point-based system to determine which offenders should be incarcerated pending bond, and which offenders can be released on their own recognizance (R.O.R.).

Donnie is a 'good old country boy', but he's also an intelligent, kind man. Being incarcerated is stressful, period, and there are many inexpensive, common-sense ways to reduce that stress. A full belly ('a.', supra), is one example: well-fed inmates tend to be more relaxed/less anxious. Another is his realization that the vast majority of inmates have not been convicted of a crime, and it is not his job to punish them.

Since his election in 2010, both inmate-on-inmate and inmate-on-staff violence have dropped dramatically. Although his 'food costs' have risen, the savings in emergency medical care for inmates and workman's compensation claims from injured staff members have more than offset the costs of feeding inmates.

The bottom line is, I suppose, that Donnie has taken a 'NOT 'Sheriff Joe (Arpaio)' approach to corrections, and it WORKS.

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