Artist Jesse Krimes created a 39 panel allegorical mural
while incarcerated in a federal prison in Butner, NC. The multi media piece is made primarily from prison bedsheets and photos from the NY Times. A little more about Krimes.
On Wednesday, William Van Poyck was executed
by the state of Florida for murdering a prison guard during a botched 1987 attempt to free an imprisoned friend. Poyck spent 25 years in solitary confinement on death row, during which time he wrote to his sister about his life in prison. Since 2005 she has published those letters to a blog called Death Row Diary
. 'Poyck used to write about everything from the novels and history books he was reading and shows he watched on PBS to the state of the world and his own philosophy of life – punctuated by news of the deaths of those around him, from illness, suicide, and execution.' Excerpts
. His final letter.
William Blake has been held in solitary confinement at Elmira Correctional Facility in New York State for nearly 26 years, after he murdered a Sheriff's Deputy and wounded another in a failed escape attempt back in 1987. Sentenced to 77 years to life, he will be eligible for parole in 2064. But Blake has no chance of ever leaving prison alive, and almost no chance of ever leaving solitary — a fate he considers "a sentence worse than death.
" (Via) [more inside]
River Kwai prisoner who forgave, dies at 93.
America's Last Prisoner of War by Michael Hastings (single page)
- In the early-morning hours of June 30th, according to soldiers in the unit, Bowe approached his team leader not long after he got off guard duty and asked his superior a simple question: If I were to leave the base, would it cause problems if I took my sensitive equipment? [more inside]
Sandusky, Ohio is probably best known for its roller coasters
(and maybe the wineries in the area
), but one of the most interesting places--a tiny little island in the Sandusky Bay called Johnson's Island
--is very often overlooked. Once the home of a prison camp for confederate soldiers, daring (and not so daring) escapes, convoluted espionage schemes, poetry, and eating rats. [more inside]
The last Japanese man remaining in Kazakhstan: A Kafkian tale of the plight of a Japanese POW in the Soviet Union
. This is the story of Tetsuro Ahiko, a Japanese national who was living on Sakhalin Island during WWII, and was sent to gulags after the war instead of being repatriated to Japan. Ahiko has turned down multiple offers to be resettled in Japan and has spent 60+ years in Kazakhstan (what was then the Soviet Union.)
The last meals of executed prisoners
- photographs of the final choices of death row inmates.
On Saturday, Cuba issued an unprecedented public report on the status of an imprisoned dissident. Guillermo Fariñas Hernández
began his hunger strike in February, the day after the first Cuban hunger striker death in almost forty years. He is now near death
. [more inside]
I am not a number, I am a free man
Forty years ago "The Prisoner
" made it's American debut
and challenging science fiction series that follows "Number 6," a former government operative sent into
a seemingly idyllic but twisted prison known as "The Village
". Over the course of
Number 6 struggles to retain his identity in the face of sophisticated and relentless
attempts by the powers-that-be (led by people known only as "No. 2") to extract his secrets.
It ended with a final episode
and caused it's writer (the show's star Patrick McGoohan
) to go into hiding after it aired. [more inside]
It's common for pro se prisoners to sue unusual defendants
, but never before have I seen a list of defendants [pdf]
so awe-inspiring. Francois Rabelais
would truly be proud. Unfortunately, this particular prisoner's follow up lawsuit against Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Michael Vick
isn't nearly so entertaining.
Cheyney the Torturer?
According to Dan Froomkin
today, Lawrence Wilkerson (former chief of staff to the secretary of state) said that he had uncovered a "visible audit trail" tracing the practice of prisoner abuse by U.S. soldiers directly back to Vice President Cheney's office.
The Incentives for Silence:
[login or Google required]
An Army intelligence sergeant was ordered to a psychologist for voicing concerns about the safety of Iraqi prisoners. After finding nothing wrong with him, his commanding officer told the psychologist that, “I don't care what you saw or heard, he is imbalanced, and I want him out of here.”
“The next day... the soldier was evacuated from Iraq in restraints on a stretcher to a military hospital in Germany, despite having been given no official diagnosis”
Watch out for the giant robot ball.
, the autonomous rolling sentry on the Prisoner
was really just a weather balloon, University of Uppsala researchers have developed a real
that chases burglars. “Once alerted, it can summon help, sound an alarm or pursue the intruders, taking pictures ... While the current version can only raise the alarm, it could be adapted to corner an intruder if the customer wanted”.
NASA/JPL has also developed a similar Tumbleweed Polar Rover
, which has been tested in Greenland and Antarctica.
How many does Homeland Security
have on order?
Pentagon officials tell NBC News that late last year, at the same time U.S. military police were allegedly abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ordered that one Iraqi prisoner be held “off the books” — hidden entirely from the International Red Cross
and anyone else — in possible violation of international law.
Mistreatment of Prisoners Is Called Routine in U.S.
"Physical and sexual abuse of prisoners, similar to what has been uncovered in Iraq, takes place in American prisons with little public knowledge or concern, according to corrections officials, inmates and human rights advocates..."
Mordechai Vanunu: The political prisoner you've never heard of.
He's spent over 11 years in solitary confinement. His treatment was condemned by Amnesty International as "cruel, inhuman, and degrading." His crime? Blowing the whistle on Israel's nuclear program in 1986.
Why does America allow an ally, and a democratic one, to engage in such police state actions?
Is forcing a prisoner on death row to take antipsychotic medication to make him sane enough to execute cruel and unusual punishment? (NYT link)
A federal appeals court ruled that officials in Arkansas can force a prisoner on death row to take antipsychotic medication to make him sane enough to execute. The problem is that the American Medical Association's ethical guidelines prohibits precisely that.
To make the case more surreal, a representative of the Arkansas attorney general's office who argued for the state later said: "The ethical decisions involving doctors are difficult ones, but they are not ones for the courts". Does this mean that COs -Correction Officers- are to figure out for themselves which medication to administer? Do they also call the shots when deciding if the "waiting" patient is sane enough???
A report commissioned by outgoing Maryland governor Parris Glendening has found interesting racial disparities in the death penalty
: although it appears the race of the defendant
is irrelevant individually in the application of capital punishment, such is is not the case when one weighs in the race of the victim
of a crime, in which the killing of a white person by a black person nearly doubles the likelihood of the defendant receiving the death penalty, "primarily because they are substantially more likely to be charged by the state's attorney with a capital offense."
The Plight of the Pregnant Prisoner.
Every culture has to decide what to do with their pregnant prisoners. Here in the USA, are we doing the best we can?
And then there is the whole abortion debate.
Jack Henry Abbott committed suicide in his cell.
He was found yesterday, apparently, but I guess it didn't hit the wires until today. I would've figured someone would have mentioned it here since Mailer was a topic of interest
just a few days ago.
The story of Huang Qi,
the man who started the first human-rights website
in China, is one of the most depressing internet stories I've read. Now that he is jailed for "subverting state power," no US internet firms are sticking for him, as they're too busy trying to market their sites and services in China. I've participated in protests
before, but I really wish we could get together and protest bigger things, things that might improve or save others' lives. I hope the proposed data havens like Sealand
get online and allow sites such as Qi's to continue.