Inside the Kafkaesque World of the US’s "Little Guantánamos"
We sat together on her couch, her small, eight-year-old hands clutching a photo of her father, Yassin Aref. “My daddy only held me twice before I was five,” Dilnia told me. For the first five years of her life, she only knew him as the man on the other side of a plexiglass window in a communication management unit in an Indiana federal penitentiary.
Prisoners describe the communication management units, or CMUs, as “Little Guantánamos.” In 2006, the Bureau of Prisons created two of these units to isolate and segregate specific prisoners, the majority of them convicted of crimes related to terrorism. The bureau secretly opened these units without informing the public and without allowing anyone an opportunity to comment on their creation, as required by law.
Cao Shunli died while incarcerated
recently for advocating the right of ordinary Chinese citizens to have input into China's entry in the UN's Universal Periodic Review
, a new set of human rights reports for every UN member state. She died because she was denied medical care. Her family has not been allowed to see the body. [more inside]
Twilight in the Box.
"The suicide statistics, the squalor and the recidivism haven’t ended solitary confinement
. Maybe the brain studies will." [Via]
A LIVING DEATH
: Sentenced to die behind bars for what?
For 3,278 people, it was nonviolent offenses like stealing a $159 jacket or serving as a middleman in the sale of $10 of marijuana. An estimated 65% of them are Black. Many of them were struggling with mental illness, drug dependency or financial desperation when they committed their crimes. None of them will ever come home to their parents and children. And taxpayers are spending billions to keep them behind bars.
A LIVING DEATH: Life without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses
Norway's penal system has gathered some attention recently, as the new Halden prison
just opened. The $217 million facility will house 252 prisoners, some long-term and some short. The new prison is notable for, among other things, use of armoured glass instead of bars on windows, natural lighting
and single-inmate cells with private showers, TVs and access to a gym and a sound studio. There was also an art budget, and Norwegian street artist Dolk
was commisioned to decorate some of the walls. The Norwegian penal system is similar to the other Scandinavian countries', with no death penalty, and a "life" sentence of 21 years. In Norway there are no privately run incarceration facilities, and the opening of the rather plush-seeming Halden prison spurred some discussion, but garnered no big controversy. [more inside]
Prison and the Mentally Ill in Massachusetts:
The Globe reports on the pitfalls and consequences of using a retribution-based correctional system on the criminally insane in MA, as inmates in the state kill themselves at triple the national rate.
. Part II
. Part III (in tomorrow's Globe). Photos
of the system's most troubled
. Last words
of some disturbed inmates. [more inside]
California Where the Rich
do Fine While the Poor are Doing Time
"Hell, you got to live with it, there's nothing else to live with except mendacity, is there?" Big Daddy, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
It began with
an innocent-looking Valentine's Day card in 2005.
Inside the card were several slips of paper, a hastily cut-up printout of names of 550 secret detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The human rights lawyer who received "this weird valentine" handed it over to authorities, and this week the court martial begins for JAG LtCmdr Matthew Diaz, facing 36 years for divulging state secrets.
Whither goest thou, American Jurisprudence
Convicted as an ecoterrorist, a brilliant young scholar nose-dives in prison.
An article on Billy Cottrell
, a physics genius with Asperger's Syndrome who was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison for his role in destroying $5 million worth of SUVs. His case was previously discussed here
. [Via BB.]
The Prison Policy Initiative
conducts research and advocacy on incarceration policy. Some interesting data include the proliferation
of prisons in the US over the last century, disenfranchisement
of potential black voters, global incarceration rates
and percentage of US population under control
of the criminal justice system.
This is some scary stuff
Life in prison for malicious hacking? We can't keep rapists and murderers away from society for very long but now hackers & crackers could be jailed for life? And on top of that the FBI can monitor internet packets without a warrant?
If you enjoy your freedom from gov't surveillance, it looks like it's time to start using PGP
ACLU files a lawsuit on behalf of black gay prisoner Roderick Johnson against several Texas prisons who ignored his pleas for protection against gangs who "bought and sold Mr. Johnson as a chattel, raped and degraded him on a virtual daily basis
, and threatened him with death if he resisted." During one hearing, Johnson was allegedly forced by a prison gang member to appear before the committee in makeup. This invited the alleged derision of the classification committee members: "If you want to be a ho, you'll be treated like a ho." Another member allegedly said, "You ain't nothing but a dirty tramp. Learn to fight or accept the f--king."
Wen Ho Lee release delayed, again...
as the case falls apart against him, the feds manage to secure a single plea of guilty and arrange Dr. Lee's release after 9 months in solitary confinement. How do you feel about this? Is the an example of the "Evil Empire" scapegoating a minority?