An article on solitary confinement from a philosopher's point of view:
There are many ways to destroy a person, but the simplest and most devastating might be solitary confinement. Deprived of meaningful human contact, otherwise healthy prisoners often come unhinged. They experience intense anxiety, paranoia, depression, memory loss, hallucinations and other perceptual distortions. Psychiatrists call this cluster of symptoms SHU syndrome, named after the Security Housing Units of many supermax prisons. Prisoners have more direct ways of naming their experience. They call it “living death,” the “gray box,” or “living in a black hole.”
Great story on an important issue of justice and human rights, with audio links as well:
Tamms Correctional Center on 200 Supermax Road, near the southern tip of Southern Illinois, may be as far from the hustling and bustling city of Chicago, with its constant city throb of noise, as you can get. And it's likely that no one can feel the difference as much as its inmates.
The only supermax facility in Illinois, meaning it is the only prison built to keep the majority of its prisoners in isolation, Tamms prison was consigned for closure by the state's governor in July.
But the battle between former prisoners, the families of those hurt by conditions at Tamms, anti-torture advocates, the union determined to keep its jobs and the state legislature struggling to contain costs continues to rage.
The story of Tamms is the story of something positive that may have come out of a recession, about what may be the last throes of the supermax movement, and what a campaign against torture accomplished in less than four years.
Mark Karlin: Before we get into the details, is it accurate to characterize your thesis, in a colloquial way, by saying that institutionalized racial casting is alive and even ratcheting up in the United States in 2012?
Michelle Alexander: Yes, I do believe that something akin to a racial caste system is alive and well in America. For reasons that have stunningly little to do with crime or crime rates, we, as a nation, have chosen to lock up more than two million people behind bars. Millions more are on probation or parole, or branded felons for life and thus locked into a permanent second-class status. The mass incarceration of poor people of color, particularly black men, has emerged as a new caste system, one specifically designed to address the social, economic, and political challenges of our time. It is, in my view, the moral equivalent of Jim Crow.
Police in the California city of Anaheim are facing allegations of murder and brutality after fatally shooting two Latino men over the weekend and firing rubber bullets at crowds of protesters. On Saturday, Anaheim police shot and killed 24-year-old Manuel Diaz after he reportedly ran away from a group of officers who confronted him in the street. Diaz was unarmed. Hours after his death, a chaotic scene broke out when police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at a crowd of local residents protesting the shooting. Another Latino resident, Joel Acevedo, was shot dead by police the following day. Police say Acevedo was suspected in a car robbery, but the circumstances around his death remain unconfirmed. We discuss the situation in Anaheim with Gustavo Arellano, editor of the alternative newspaper, OC Weekly, and Theresa Smith, who has worked with families to call for police accountability in Anaheim since 2009, when officers shot and killed her son, Cesar Cruz, a 35-year-old father of five. "Given the fact that this is the eighth officer-involved shooting within one year in the city of Anaheim ... the community is going to be very upset," Arellano says. "There's a lot of angry residents, and rightfully so."
While many of us were still trying to make sense of the violent shootings at a theater in Aurora, Colorado, Anaheim police unleashed violence of their own on citizens who were protesting police brutality in their community. On Saturday, July 21, Anaheim police officers fired rubber bullets, bean bags, pepper spray, and then released a police dog, into a crowd that included women and children:
You can sign Presente's petition to demand that Attorney General Kamala Harris launch an investigation into both the incident on video and the recent increase in officer-involved shootings in Anaheim:
In 2012 alone, there have been eight officer-involved shootings in Anaheim. The disturbing images in this video took place just hours after the police killing of Manuel Diaz, as residents gathered to demand answers about his death. The Anaheim Police then fired rubber bullets and unleashed a dog on a crowd that included children.
We are told that the Republicans are waging a war on women. It is true that they are on an endless quest to restrict access to abortion, if not outlaw it altogether, and want to prevent insurance companies from paying for contraception. In Wisconsin, the Republican governor recently signed legislation which repealed that state’s equal pay enforcement act.
The Republicans deserve the label, but if there is a war on women in America today, it is being directed primarily at black women as a group and at their young children as well. Black women have been criminalized for the most minor of offenses, for enrolling their children in schools outside of their home districts, and even when their children are victimized by other people.
The Walnut Grove story is a cautionary tale that raises alarming questions about the treatment of youthful, mostly nonviolent offenders in Mississippi and elsewhere. And it calls into question the wisdom of turning over the care of these youths, some as young as 13, to private companies that exist solely to turn a profit – companies that have no incentive to rehabilitate youths, that thrive on recidivism, and that increase their profits by cutting corners and reaping ever more troubled souls into their walls.
A blog from Davey D on Marissa Alexander, who is sitting in jail for firing a gun in the air to defend herself:
As we look at the drama surrounding the Trayvon Martin case, we encourage folks to connect the dots and pay attention to other cases to get an idea on how justice is elusive for some and the working quite well for others.. Yesterday we saw how George Zimmerman was granted bail after giving a half-hearted, insulting, insincere apology to the Martin family for profiling, stalking and eventually killing their son..
What we didn’t hear about was a how an African-American women who in the course of protecting herself from an abusive husband who beat her while she was pregnant, shot a gun that she legally owns into the air. No one was hurt, but she is now looking at 25 years. Yes indeed, you read that right, facing 25 years.. Her name is Marissa Alexander, she lives in Florida, is a mother of 3 and everyone should know her name and her case.The person who prosecuted her case is Angela Corey, the prosecutor in the George Zimmerman case.
Another take on the growing prison-industrial complex...
Sweatshop labor is back with a vengeance. It can be found across broad stretches of the American economy and around the world. Penitentiaries have become a niche market for such work. The privatization of prisons in recent years has meant the creation of a small army of workers too coerced and right-less to complain.
Prisoners, whose ranks increasingly consist of those for whom the legitimate economy has found no use, now make up a virtual brigade within the reserve army of the unemployedwhose ranks have ballooned along with the U.S. incarceration rate. The Corrections Corporation of America and G4S (formerly Wackenhut), two prison privatizers, sell inmate labor at subminimum wages to Fortune 500 corporations like Chevron, Bank of America, AT&T, and IBM.