In 1972, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox were convicted of murdering a prison guard in Louisiana's notorious maximum-security prison, Angola. The warden sentenced them to solitary confinement, where they remained for the next 36 years. Until March 2008, the men had spent at least 23 hours per day in cells that measured only 6 x 9 feet.
Woodfox's conviction was recently overturned, evidently through a federal habeus
proceeding, and he is awaiting a new trial. NPR did an outstanding job of tracking down people involved and telling a riveting story: Part I
, Part II
, Part III
. No doubt that much of the attention brought to the case is due to the efforts of Jackie Sumell and her Herman's House
project. [more inside]
posted by ajr
on Nov 9, 2008 -
Men in Women-in-Prison
"This dynamic — of eroticized male exclusion from, and investment in, female relationships — was the defining feature of a handful of women-in-prison films from the 1970s. In these movies, female sisterhood, generally in the face of oppression, is itself fetishized — feminism is turned into a kind of masochistic male wet dream. How this unlikely cathexis occurred, and how it functioned, is the subject of this essay." [more inside]
posted by carsonb
on Aug 7, 2008 -
The black backs by and on which the fortunes of the New South were built:
On March 30, 1908, Green Cottenham was arrested by the sheriff of Shelby County, Alabama, and charged with “vagrancy.”... Cottenham’s offense was blackness.... [After a brief trial] Cottenham... was sold. Under a standing arrangement between the county and a vast subsidiary of the industrial titan of the North — U.S. Steel Corporation — the sheriff turned the young man over to the company for the duration of his sentence.... he was chained inside a long wooden barrack at night and required to spend nearly every waking hour digging and loading coal. His required daily “task” was to remove eight tons of coal from the mine. Cottenham was subject to the whip for failure to dig the requisite amount, at risk of physical torture for disobedience, and vulnerable to the sexual predations of other miners.... Forty-five years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freeing American slaves, Green Cottenham and more than a thousand other black men toiled under the lash at Slope 12.
— from the Introduction to Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black People in America from the Civil War to World War II
. The book's website
includes reviews of the book
, an excerpt of the Introduction, and an extensive photo gallery
that includes disturbing images of enslaved and tortured prisoners. [more inside]
posted by orthogonality
on Jun 21, 2008 -
Fiscal Pressures Lead Some States to Free Inmates Early,
says the Washington Post. Across the United States, a financial crisis is brewing in our nation's correctional systems. California, which has the largest prison system in the nation
, (housing 170,000 inmates with a capacity of only 100,000), plans to increase the budget for new prison construction
by 7 to 14 billion dollars
, on top of releasing 22,000 nonviolent prisoners on unsupervised parole. Other states, especially Michigan, face an even more dire situation... [more inside]
posted by Avenger
on May 5, 2008 -
1 in 99.1 American adults are now incarcerated according to a new Pew Center study
(pdf). Some interesting numbers from a NYT article
on the report: 1 in 36 Hispanic adults are incarcerated, 1 in 15 blacks, 1 in 9 black men aged 20-34, 1 in 355 white women aged 35-39. Some context from the World Prison Population List
posted by aerotive
on Feb 28, 2008 -
Al Odah v. U.S. and Boumediene v. Bush go before SCOTUS Streaming on C-Span today.
The Center for Constitutional Rights (great podcast
) will argue before the Supreme Court today:
Immediately after the Supreme Court’s decision in Rasul, The Center for Constitutional Rights and cooperating counsel filed 11 new habeas petitions in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of over 70 detainees. These cases eventually became the consolidated cases of Al Odah v. United Statesand Boumediene v. Bush, the leading cases determining the significance of the Supreme Court’s decision in Rasul, the rights of non-citizens to challenge the legality of their detention in an offshore U.S. military base, and the constitutionality of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
posted by ao4047
on Dec 5, 2007 -
The media begins to awaken.
Recently, Tom Curley, the President and CEO of Associated Press lashed out at the absurd conditions surrounding the detention of Bilal Hussein
. After being detained for over 18 months
, the US Military has finally decided to charge him, but nobody can say for what, or when, or why, or what evidence might be brought forth. Strangely, Mr. Curley writes this without a hint of the irony present in being caught in the net of lies, deception and constructed memory hole that the media has participated in the creation of. Playing patsy comes back to bite. AP hosts a timeline of articles
posted by petrilli
on Nov 26, 2007 -
You’d need years to really study
of Califonia’s history - the artist
certainly had a lot a free time to create them. You'd probably also need a special invitation to engage in a multi-year study in the gallery
- and you probably don't want one.
posted by rtha
on Aug 20, 2007 -
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
posted by planetkyoto
on May 15, 2007 -
The Navy's detention facility at Hanrahan has a created a secret prison-within-a-prison and, per the article, developed elaborate plans to dodge public scrutiny of its operations to detain enemy combatants. "In detaining American citizens, full constitutional rights are afforded except where curtailed by higher guidance or accepted prison practice," the report said.
posted by Malor
on Feb 25, 2007 -
Are You Lonesome Tonight?
Maybe your dream mate just hasn't gotten out of prison yet? Find them now and they'll be yours when they do get paroled in five to ten years. (somewhat NSFW). The bonus early 90's flaming gif and site design is just icing!
Be sure to read the disclaimer
. Here, I'll summarize, use a PO Box to correspond with the inmates, don't give your phone number unless you want to accept collect calls and don't sue the site if your dream man gets out and chops you into little pieces. Seems reasonable enough.
posted by fenriq
on Feb 13, 2007 -