Federal convict and Trump crony Paul Manafort is to be held in solitary confinement at the notorious Riker's Island prison while he faces trial for fraud in a New York court (solitary confinement is standard procedure for high-profile prisoners); Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (whose district includes Riker's) publicly condemned the use of solitary confinement for any prisoner, including Manafort, adding that, "if people aren’t willing to apply principles evenly, no matter the person, then they aren’t fighting for criminal justice reform" and "a prison sentence is not a license for gov torture and human rights violations. That‘s what solitary confinement is." She concluded with "Manafort should be released, along with all people being held in solitary."
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Newly obtained documents show that under the administration of Donald Trump, thousands of ICE detainees who are mostly from Central America are “sometimes forced into extended periods of solitary confinement for reasons that have nothing to do with rule violations.” Read the rest
Martin Shkreli's poor impulse control continues to land him in terrible trouble: his price-gouging on lifesaving drugs didn't land him in prison, but his profligate boasting about it did (to say nothing of the revocation of his bail after he put a bounty on Hillary Clinton's hair follicles).
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Until recently, under Canadian law, prison administrators could confine their charges to an indefinite period in solitary confinement. Thanks to a pair of high profile court rulings, this could change in a big way, provided the Federal government can get its shit together.
Last month, the Supreme Court in the Canadian province of British Columbia struck down a law that allowed prisoners to be kept indefinitely in solitary confinement. It was a huge win for prison inmates and society: long-term solitary confinement does nothing to rehabilitate or condition an individual to become a more productive member of society. Worse, as humans are social animals, being locked away from our peers for long periods of time can cause psychological trauma--that's not something you want to do to someone who'll eventually be released back into society. Human rights activists in BC applauded the court's decision. Unfortunately, a similar case, heard in a different region of Canada, is keeping the verdict from changing the country's confinement laws.
This past December, a Superior Court Judge in the province of Ontario handed down a verdict that found that solitary confinement lasting any longer than five days is absolute bullshit, according to the Canadian constitution. But, as the CBC details, the practice of doing so does not violate the constitutional rights of the individual being thrown into solitary.
Both verdicts have merit, but which has more weight?
It's a question that the Canadian government has decided can only be answered by another run through the legal system. Read the rest
The vast majority of prisoners like Kenneth Moore held in solitary confinement for extended periods get released with almost no rehabilitation or coping skills. Frontline spent three years inside and outside Maine State Prison documenting the effects on prisoners as they try to return to society after solitary. Be warned, it is as bloody and terrifying as any horror movie. Read the rest
Solitary: Inside Red Onion State Prison aired last night after a successful festival run. The film is an unflinching look at life in solitary confinement at Red Onion supermax, where prisoners spend 23 hours a day or more in solitary confinement. Read the rest
After being missing for seven days, whistleblower Chelsea Manning has made contact. Her prison warders threw her into solitary for a week and didn't tell her lawyers or friends where she was. Read the rest