VOICES: CAIC Members Give Powerful Testimony About Solitary in New Video Series

tyrrell muhammed, we are witnesses, the marshall project“We Are Witnesses” is a new series of short videos produced by The Marshall Project and The New Yorker, offering incredibly powerful testimony from 20 people whose lives have become enmeshed in the U.S. criminal system.

Two of the videos feature CAIC members. One is about Alicia Barraza and Doug Van Zandt, whose son Ben committed suicide in solitary. One is about Tyrrell Muhammad, who was in prison for 26 years and 11 months, including 7 years in solitary.

“You don’t even know when you lose your mind.” Tyrrell Muhammad describes the experience of solitary confinement: “Usually when we have a snowstorm, after 3 days we get cabin fever, everybody wants to get out. Solitary confinement? There’s no getting out.” He talks about how solitary caused him to start to lose his hold on reality, seeing “figurines” in the paint patterns on the wall of his cell that “look like Abraham Lincoln.”

“Then you’re saying to yourself, ‘That’s not Abraham Lincoln. Stop it. Cut it out,’” he says. “You’re battling yourself for your sanity. And it’s a hell of a battle.”

alicia barraza, We Are Witnesses, The Marshall Project“He wasn’t a bad kid. He was just a kid that was mentally ill.” Alicia Barraza and Doug Van Zandt talk about their son Ben, who despite being 17 years old and diagnosed with a mental illness, was not granted youthful offender status by the DA.

“I wanted to help him, and protect him, but then at the same time, he was already in this criminal system,” Alicia says. “He left us a note. He just said, ‘Please tell my family I love them.’”

Please watch and share!

https://www.themarshallproject.org/witnesses?share=tyrrell

https://www.themarshallproject.org/witnesses?share=alicia-doug

VOICES: End the Torture of Solitary Confinement with the HALT Act

By Five Mualimm-ak. Reprinted from the Albany Times-Union.

I am a survivor of 2,054 days of torture. And like many people who have endured such abuse, I suffer lasting psychological effects.

I often experience memory loss and flashbacks. It’s sometimes hard for me to focus. I get upset and angry easily, and have abnormal reactions to ordinary things. I find it difficult to sleep. I do not like being touched, and have difficulty connecting to people. I suffer from depression.

The torture I endured did not take place in some foreign land, or at the hands of a vicious psychopath. It happened right here in New York state, amidst communities of decent, law-abiding people. My torture consisted of five years in solitary confinement in New York’s prisons.

southport bigOn any given day in the United States, more than 80,000 men, women, and children are in some form of extreme isolation in our nation’s prisons. In New York, the number is about 4,500. These individuals spend 23 to 24 hours a day alone in bare, sometimes windowless cells, without human contact, work, treatment, or programming. They are fed through a slot in the door, and given at most one hour a day to exercise by themselves in a fenced or walled dog run.

Most of the people in solitary confinement in New York are there for nonviolent misbehavior. Disobeying an order or speaking back to a correction officer, testing positive for marijuana use, or having too many postage stamps — all of these rule violations can land a person in “the box” for months, and the months can add up to years. For me, the infractions included having too many pencils, refusing to eat an apple, and failing to sleep in a broken bunk.

Even when it is meted out in response to more serious behavior, solitary confinement is not the answer. A recent study in Texas confirms that solitary does not reduce violence in prisons. An earlier study in Washington state showed that being released directly from solitary to the streets — as 2,000 people are in New York every year — increases the likelihood that people will land back in prison.

Today, there is a growing consensus that solitary confinement is both inhumane and counterproductive. But prison systems are slow to change. Recent reforms have reduced the number of people with mental illness held in solitary in New York, and limited the use of isolation on children under 18, pregnant women, and people with developmental disabilities. But the numbers of people removed from solitary confinement are small, and thousands still remain.

For the people who still endure this torture on a daily basis in New York, the best hope lies in legislation introduced last year in both the Assembly and Senate. The Humane Alternatives to Long-Term Solitary Confinement Act (A. 4401/S. 2659). This legislation would ban the use of solitary confinement beyond 15 days, which is the limit recommended by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, and ban solitary altogether for the most vulnerable groups. It would also replace long-term isolation with intensive treatment and programming in special secure rehabilitation units. And it would provide corrections officers and other prison staff the tools and training they need to do their jobs safely.

For me and other survivors of long-term solitary, it may be too late to avoid the permanent scars of psychological torture. But for thousands of other people in prison — people for whom we, as New Yorkers, are responsible — the time for change is now. The HALT Solitary Confinement Act is gaining momentum in the Legislature, and last week more than 100 people converged from around the state to lobby for the bill. HALT provides New York’s legislators, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the opportunity to make our state a leader in banning solitary confinement and saying no to torture in our own backyards.

Five Mualimm-ak spent 12 years in New York state prisons for illegal weapons possession. He is founder of the Incarcerated Nation Campaign and an active member of the New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement.

NEWS: Roundup of National News on Isolated Confinement, October/November 2013

By Fran Geteles-Shapiro

November 9, 2013

A new report by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty (NMCLP) and the ACLU of New Mexico (ACLU-NM) reports on the systems abuses of solitary confinement, including: overuse; isolation of people suffering from serious mental illness; use of prolonged segregation for the mentally ill; and, the lack of transparency and oversight.  Reforms are recommended. http://nmpovertylaw.org/WP-nmclp/wordpress/WP-nmclp/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Solitary_Confinement_Report_FINALsmallpdf.com_.pdf

November 8, 2013

A reporter discusses his visit to the Ad Seg cellblock of a prison in Maine where the typical number of prisoners in isolation has been reduced by more than 50%.  He points out that those who remain in solitary are still in grim ugly, super harsh conditions from which there are constant reports of cruelty, inadequate medical care, understaffing, and deliberate mixing of predators and the vulnerable. http://portland.thephoenix.com/news/156318-rare-look-inside-the-maine-state-prisons-‘super/#ixzz2kejcZjsZ

November 6, 2013

A report on Solitary Watch summarizes the findings of the two psychiatrists who were asked by the NYC Board of Corrections to assess whether the city is in compliance with their Mental Health Minimum Standards.  Their highly critical report found that the standards are being violated. After the report was published the BOC voted to begin rulemaking to limit the use of solitary confinement in NYC. http://solitarywatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Gilligan-Report.-Final.pdf  http://solitarywatch.com/2013/11/06/reports-condemn-abuse-solitary-confinement-new-york-citys-jails-officials-weigh-future/

The American Public Health Association (APHA) issued a statement against solitary confinement recommending: people with serious mental illnesses and juveniles be excluded from solitary; people in solitary confinement be closely monitored and removed if their physical or mental health deteriorates or necessary health services cannot be provided; alternative means of discipline should be created; isolation for clinical or therapeutic purposes should be permitted only upon the order of a credentialed health care provider; and, individuals isolated for their personal safety must have access to programs, treatment, education, recreation, visitation, and social interactions comparable to that afforded prisoners in the general population. http://www.apha.org/NR/rdonlyres/AEF53EE6-7E3E-4E87-8731- 4D2C5BB2CF2D/0/C2SolitaryConfinement.pdf

November 3, 2013

A new report from the Taskforce on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centres says that doctors and psychologists working for the US military violated the ethical codes of their profession under instruction from the defense department and the CIA to become involved in the torture and degrading treatment of suspected terrorists.  They were in effect told that their ethical mantra “first, do no harm” did not apply, because they were not treating people who were ill. The taskforce wants rules to ensure doctors and psychiatrists working for the military are prohibited from taking part in interrogation, sharing information from detainees’ medical records with interrogators, or participating in force-feeding, and they should be required to report abuse of detainees. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/04/cia-doctors-torture-suspected-terrorists-9-11

November 2, 2013

A summary of quantitative data available about who is held in segregated confinement in our nation’s prisons and jails suggests that in many states the harsh conditions of solitary confinement are probably disproportionately affecting people of color. http://solitarywatch.com/2013/11/02/prison-segregation-racial-disparities/

October 31, 2013

The ACLU of Montana won an agreement regarding access to outdoor exercise for prisoners in a jail.  The jail in this case had outdoor recreation for two of its housing units holding adult males, but not for the housing units holding ad seg, female populations and juveniles.  The jail has agreed to build recreation areas onto these housing units and provide daily access. http://aclumontana.org/images/stories/documents/litigation/chiefgoesoutsettlement102013.pdf

October 29, 2013

A former prison official and an advocate for the rights of incarcerated people together suggest reforms in the use of solitary confinement in CA and NY:  no more applying it to minors or for nonviolent offenses or using it for crowd control; allowing opportunity to read, receive visits, make phone calls, and have other forms of human contact and stimulation; shorter periods of isolation; periodic review; alternative sanctions; and, the use of “conditional discharges” for first-time nonviolent offenders who “clean up their records.” http://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/Reform-prison-isolation-4933317.php

October 27, 2013

North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a man diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia who has a history of childhood sexual abuse alleging that he was abused at North Carolina’s Central Prison by guards who repeatedly doused him with excessively high doses of pepper spray, causing him great pain. The suit raises questions about the treatment of individuals in solitary confinement.  The plaintiff in the case spent years cycling between cells in the prison mental ward and solitary confinement – often in response to behaviors that are primary symptoms of his illness. http://charlotte.cbslocal.com/2013/10/27/suit-mentally-ill-nc-inmate-often-pepper-sprayed/

October 23, 2013

At the urging of Colorado’s ACLU’s chapter, a senator is sponsoring a bill to find alternatives to the use of so-called administrative segregation for prisoners who have been diagnosed with serious psychological disorders. Citing the recent killing of a state corrections official by a man released directly from solitary confinement, he says, “We are doing the least safe thing.”
http://www.coloradoindependent.com/144572/lawmaker-will-seek-to-abolish-solitary-confinement-for-mentally-ill-prisoners

October 22, 2013

An article for the ACLU discusses the importance of the UN’s efforts to update their Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMRs) with particular focus on the need for sufficient protections against lengthy solitary confinement. https://www.aclu.org/blog/prisoners-rights/historic-opportunity-advance-international-norms-prisoners-rights

October 19, 2013

Russell Shoatz’s lawyers submitted a communication to Juan E. Mendez, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture urging him to inquire into why a “father, grandfather and great grandfather” is being held in extreme isolation despite having a near-perfect disciplinary record for over 20 years.  One of the attorneys expressed the hope that an investigation by the office of the special rapporteur will bring an end to indefinite isolation. http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/10/the-u-s-s-64-square-foot-torture-chambers/?utm_content=bufferbdf02&utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer

October 18, 2013

A man in prison in Illinois, who was arrested in the lead up to Occupy Chicago, has been in solitary confinement since July for possessing anarchist literature. He isn’t accused of plotting to harm guards or other incarcerated people, but his political beliefs alone are described as a threat to the safety and security of persons or the facility. http://www.vice.com/read/prisoner-sent-to-solitary-for-copious-amounts-of-anarchist-publications

Juan Méndez, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, has requested access to California prisons to investigate the use of solitary confinement and ensure that the rights of prisoners’ are being protected. He said he wants access to any part of any prison he chooses and the freedom to speak with any incarcerated individuals of his choosing.” http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-ff-un-torture-investigator-seeks-access-to-california-prisons-20131018,0,15846.story

Amidst growing criticism of its abundant use of solitary confinement, the federal Bureau of Prisons has initiated an audit to review its “restricted housing operations.”  But, since the audit has been contracted out to a nonprofit best known as a military think tank and will be conducted largely by former corrections officials, it seems unlikely to bring any dramatic change to the lives of the people held in isolation in the federal prison system. Meanwhile, the federal government has completed purchase of a prison meant to house still more isolation cells. http://solitarywatch.com/2013/10/18/fire-federal-bureau-prisons-audits-use-solitary-confinement-buys-new-supermax-prison/

October 17, 2013

Questions are being raised about whether the extensive use of Secure Housing Units in CA have reduced gang membership or violence in the prisons.  Meanwhile prison officials have begun to provide a new “step-down” program which might reintroduce individuals into the general population gradually, over four years. http://kvpr.org/post/do-californias-security-housing-units-reduce-prison-violence

October 16, 2013

Lawyers for individuals who have been condemned to death in CA are asking a U.S. District Judge to require psychiatric hospitalization for the most mentally ill people on death row and to ban the use of pepper spray as a means of controlling them.  They showed videos of individuals being drenched with burning pepper spray and dragged from their cells for refusing medication or psychiatric evaluation.  Prison officials argue their care is adequate and no one was hurt in the incidents depicted in the videos. http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-ff-prison-lawyers-challenge-care-for-californias-condemned-20131016,0,5753340.story#axzz2iwsid0gN

Anthony Graves, who spent 18 years in prison, 12 of them in solitary confinement on death row in Texas, used funds he received from the state for his wrongful conviction to set up a law school scholarship in the name of Nicole Cásarez, the Houston attorney and journalism professor who fought for eight years to secure his freedom.  He also used some of the money to start a foundation to help at-risk children with incarcerated parents. http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/anthony-graves-establishes-scholarship#.Ul7ygaqS5uQ.twitter

October 14, 2013

The US military has announced the end of the six-month mass hunger strike among detainees at Guantánamo Bay, but human rights groups argue that such proclamations are disingenuous as at least 16 inmates are still force-fed daily, and two are in hospital. Also, several of the men and their lawyers have reported that hunger strike participants were coerced into ending their participation in the strike by harsh treatment including isolated confinement, extreme humiliation including forced nudity, temperature manipulation cell searches timed to disrupt their sleep, and denial of their belongings including necessities like eyeglasses.  A particular victim of this harsh treatment was Shaker Aamer, though Britain’s Prime Minister is actively trying to have him released and returned to the UK. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/12/us-military-stormed-hunger-striker-cell

September 30, 2013

An attorney with the ACLU of VA criticizes recent efforts of the corrections department for failing to include the needs of individuals with serious mental disabilities. She notes the lack of treatment programs. She also discusses the difficulty mentally ill individuals would have adhering to the new step-down program designed to enable people in solitary to earn a return to the general population, pointing out that they are thus likely to remain in solitary indefinitely. http://www.roanoke.com/opinion/commentary/2252289-12/mentally-ill-prisoners-in-solitary-confinement-left-behind.html

September 26, 2013

CCR attorneys for 10 men in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison in Ashker v. Brown, have asked the courts to make the lawsuit a class-action-suit because hundreds more are suffering in the same appalling conditions and any remedies should apply to everyone affected. The lawsuit alleges that prolonged solitary confinement violates Eighth Amendment prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment, and that the absence of meaningful review for SHU placement violates the prisoners’ right to due process. http://ccrjustice.org/newsroom/press-releases/hundreds-of-california-prisoners-isolation-should-be-covered-class-action%2C-attorneys-argue-court

Speaking of the recent ending to the hunger strike at Pelican Bay Prison, one of the self described “principal prisoner representatives” said the strike may resume if deemed necessary.  One factor in the suspension of the hunger strike was the promise of hearings at the CA state assembly in Sacramento. The representative said he does not share the optimism of outside supporters who hailed a public relations victory when the strike ended, but believes “we have to wait and see what the politicians come up with.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/27/california-prison-hunger-strike-todd-ashker

A strong statement about children in solitary confinement, including the critically relevant issue of children tried as adults. http://www.exposingthetruth.co/children-in-solitary-confinement/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_campaign=Feed:+ExposingTheTruthco+%28Exposing+The+Truth.co%29&utm_content=bufferefd8b&utm_medium=twitter#axzz2gCliceb0

As part of a federal class-action lawsuit brought last year by the ACLU of Illinois, three court-appointed experts found that Illinois’ youth prison system is violating the constitutional rights of young people in their custody by failing to provide adequate mental health care and education and by unnecessarily keeping youths in solitary confinement of “harsh and of substandard quality.” They pointed out the inadequate staffing, including the fact that there is not a single psychiatrist specializing in children and adolescents.  Negotiations to fix the problems are currently in progress. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-illinois-youth-prison-20130926,0,4795774.story

September 23, 2013

A 61-year-old man with a history of violence and murder which occurred many years ago while he was in prison, who has since been in solitary confinement for 30 years under a “no human contact” order, has challenged this “cruel and unusual treatment.” Although mental health experts have diagnosed severe emotional and cognitive effects, a U.S. District Court supported the Bureau of Prison’s assertions that he has been unharmed by this extreme isolation because it has not deprived him of life’s basic necessities. The case is now before the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. http://www.coloradoindependent.com/144083/denver-judge-to-weigh-how-much-is-too-much-solitary-confinement

September 21, 2013

The Texas Tribune analyzed data from violent-incident reports from 99 state prisons filed from 2006 to 2012, and found: far more reports of violence at facilities housing high numbers of mentally ill and violent incarcerated people than at other prisons; reports of violent episodes are more prevalent at smaller institutions that house only psychiatric patients; and, there are more incidents of officers using force at these facilities. Advocates the numbers show that the state’s approach to incarcerating the mentally ill is not working, but criminal justice department officials argue that the state facilities are safe, and programs aimed at helping mentally ill individuals are working. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/health/a-tie-to-mental-illness-in-the-violence-behind-bars.html?utm_content=buffer92df3&utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer&_r=0

September 16, 2013

Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3, who has been in solitary confinement for over 40 years, has gone to court requesting a restraining order against the state of LA to stop strip and cavity searches, which he says occur whenever he leaves his cell – i.e. “as often as six times a day.”  After the Angola 3 sued against such searches in the late 70s, a consent decree was agreed to by the parties which held that they violated the rights of these men and must be curtailed or ceased.  However, when the judge responsible for the decree died recently, the searches were re-instated, thus requiring the return to court. http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/09/a-handwritten-letter-the-prison-system-doesnt-want-you-to-see/279751/

 

 

VOICES: Solitary Confinement’s Invisible Scars

By Five Omar Mualimm-ak. Reprinted from The Guardian.

nys doccsAs kids, many of us imagine having superpowers. An avid comic book reader, I often imagined being invisible. I never thought I would actually experience it, but I did.

It wasn’t in a parallel universe – although it often felt that way – but right here in the Empire State, my home. While serving time in New York’s prisons, I spent 2,054 days in solitary and other forms of isolated confinement, out of sight and invisible to other human beings – and eventually, even to myself.

After only a short time in solitary, I felt all of my senses begin to diminish. There was nothing to see but gray walls. In New York’s so-called special housing units, or SHUs, most cells have solid steel doors, and many do not have windows. You cannot even tape up pictures or photographs; they must be kept in an envelope. To fight the blankness, I counted bricks and measured the walls. I stared obsessively at the bolts on the door to my cell.

There was nothing to hear except empty, echoing voices from other parts of the prison. I was so lonely that I hallucinated words coming out of the wind. They sounded like whispers. Sometimes, I smelled the paint on the wall, but more often, I just smelled myself, revolted by my own scent.

There was no touch. My food was pushed through a slot. Doors were activated by buzzers, even the one that led to a literal cage directly outside of my cell for one hour per day of “recreation”.

Even time had no meaning in the SHU. The lights were kept on for 24 hours. I often found myself wondering if an event I was recollecting had happened that morning or days before. I talked to myself. I began to get scared that the guards would come in and kill me and leave me hanging in the cell. Who would know if something happened to me? Just as I was invisible, so was the space I inhabited.

The very essence of life, I came to learn during those seemingly endless days, is human contact, and the affirmation of existence that comes with it. Losing that contact, you lose your sense of identity. You become nothing.

Everyone knows that prison is supposed to take away your freedom. But solitary doesn’t just confine your body; it kills your soul.

Yet neither a judge nor a jury of my peers handed down this sentence to me. Each of the tormented 23 hours per day that I spent in a bathroom-sized room, without any contact with the outside world, was determined by prison staff.

[Read more…]

VOICES: A Sentence Worse Than Death

By William Blake. Reprinted from Solitary Watch.

elmiraThe following essay is by William Blake, who has been held in solitary confinement in the New York State prison system for close to 26 years. Currently he is in administrative segregation at Elmira Correctional Facility, a maximum security facility located in south central New York State. In 1987, Blake, then 23 and in county court on a drug charge, murdered one deputy and wounded another in a failed escape attempt. Sentenced to 77 years to life, 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.”

This powerful essay earned Blake an Honorable Mention in the Yale Law Journal’s Prison Law Writing Contest. Chosen from more than 1,500 entries, it will be published in the Journal this spring. He describes here in painstaking detail his excruciating experiences over the last quarter-century. “I’ve read of the studies done regarding the effects of long-term isolation in solitary confinement on inmates, seen how researchers say it can ruin a man’s mind, and I’ve watched with my own eyes the slow descent of sane men into madness—sometimes not so slow,” Blake writes. “What I’ve never seen the experts write about, though, is what year after year of abject isolation can do to that immaterial part in our middle where hopes survive or die and the spirit resides.” That is what Blake himself seeks to convey in his essay. —Lisa Dawson

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

“You deserve an eternity in hell,” Onondaga County Supreme Court judge Kevin Mulroy told me from his bench as I stood before him for sentencing on July 10, 1987. Apparently he had the idea that God was not the only one justified to make such judgment calls.

Judge Mulroy wanted to “pump six buck’s worth of electricity into [my] body,” he also said, though I suggest that it wouldn’t have taken six cent’s worth to get me good and dead. He must have wanted to reduce me and The Chair to a pile of ashes. My “friend” Governor Mario Cuomo wouldn’t allow him to do that, though, the judge went on, bemoaning New York State’s lack of a death statute due to the then-Governor’s repeated vetoes of death penalty bills that had been approved by the state legislature. Governor Cuomo’s publicly expressed dudgeon over being called a friend of mine by Judge Mulroy was understandable, given the crimes that I had just been convicted of committing. I didn’t care much for him either, truth be told. He built too many new prisons in my opinion, and cut academic and vocational programs in the prisons already standing.

[Read more…]

NEWS: New York Prisons: A Human Rights Crisis in Our Own Backyard

By Elena Ladriscina, Legal Fellow, NYCLU. Reprinted from the ACLU Blog of Rights.

upstatenycluNew York has allowed a human rights crisis to fester in its prisons. Each day, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision subjects nearly 4,500 prisoners to solitary confinement and other forms of extreme isolation in prisons around the state. Locked down for 22 to 24 hours a day, for months or even years, without meaningful human interaction or programming, these individuals experience severe pain and suffering. Some even contemplate suicide. The majority of individuals subjected to these conditions are black. Juveniles, the elderly and people with physical disabilities, cognitive impairments and mental illness are subjected to this nightmarish regime. Not the slightest effort is made toward rehabilitation: Nearly 2,000 prisoners each year are released straight from extreme isolation to the streets.

International human rights law prohibits these policies and practices. On Tuesday, more than 30 human rights, civil rights, faith-based and mental health organizations sent a letter to Juan E. Méndez, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, requesting that he investigate the New York State solitary confinement system and take all necessary steps to end the mistreatment of prisoners and bring New York in line with international human rights law and standards.

[Read more…]

NEWS: Human Rights, Mental Health and Faith-Based Organizations ask U.N. to Investigate Solitary Confinement in New York Prisons

Press release. Reprinted from the New York Civil Liberties Union site.

UNFebruary 5, 2013 — The New York Civil Liberties Union – joined by more than three dozen representatives from human rights, civil rights, mental health and faith-based organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture – today submitted a letter to the United Nations requesting an investigation into the use of solitary confinement in New York State prisons.

The letter – addressed to U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Méndez – alleges that New York’s use of extreme isolation and deprivation is inhumane, unsafe, arbitrary and implicates fundamental human rights protections, including “the right to be protected from torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment” and “the right to be free from discrimination.”

[Read more…]

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