Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cornelus Dupree: Innocent in 'the hole'

As part of a hearing going on today, a half-dozen exonerees including Cornelius Dupree from Texas - who was incarcerated for 30 years following a false conviction for rape and robbery -  submitted personal statements to the US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights regarding their experiences with solitary confinement. See the written testimony (pdf) submitted by the six men, and here's Dupree's:
When I first went into prison, I was really upset and stubborn because I was imprisoned for a crime I didn’t do. I was getting written up a lot for not going to work and for not doing this and that. Around 1980 or 1981, I was working in the fields picking cotton at Cofield Prison. I got into a fight with one of the other inmates. I was charged with fighting with a weapon, even though I didn’t have a weapon and was sentenced to 15 days of solitary.
If you were in solitary, you were only given a full meal every third day. The first day, you would get a spoonful of rice, a spoonful of beans and a roll. It was very dehumanizing. On the third day, you get a full meal but you’d be so hungry and weak that it wasn’t enough. Without food for three days , you have to be careful about how fast you eat it because you’ll get sick. In the 15 days I was in there, I lost 15 pounds.

I was also very cold from lying on steel. They give you one blanket. It wasn’t very long, and you had to ball up in a knot for it to cover you. It was very dirty. It was dark. You don’t know if it’s day or night. You don’t get recreation. They called it “the hole.” There were no phone calls, there was no visitation. It was the worst thing that they had, and I’ll never forget it.
RELATED: From The Hill blog, "The need to restrict prolonged solitary confinement." From The (UK) Guardian, "Solitary confinement on trial: US prison system's reliance on isolating prisoners is an ineffective and costly human-rights violation, panelists say." The blog Solitary Watch has posted links to all the written materials submitted to the subcommittee.


Lee said...

That is sick. Our govt tortures innocent people.

One question, In one of the cases DNA cleared the defendant in July of 2003 so why was he released in Jan 2004. Shouldn't he have been released the second the DNA results came back proving exoneration?

Anonymous said...

I thought most of those issues were resolved by the Ruiz decision and the subsequent TDC oversight by the special master appointed by Judge William Wayne Justice?

Anonymous said...

It is still like this in the Gateville Gulags to this very day.

Anonymous said...

That is the standard meal today on the Crain Unit.

Phillip Baker said...

No, 2:44, those issues are still unresolved. TDCJ was removed from court supervision, and just went back to doing what it does best- brutality as policy.

I know a paraplegic man in Florida DOC who has been in solitary confinement continuously for 17 years now!! The UN would rule that torture if found in some totalitarian state, so why the reluctance to apply the same standard to the US? Confinement for more than a few days in solitary is considered torture by the UN.

The Homeless Cowboy said...

I spent a couple of stints in "The Hole" on Ferguson in 1971-74. I was in there for 3 days for fighting and we only got a piece of bread 2 times a day and a full meal every 3 days and got our water from the nozzle built into the bowl at the top of the commode cabinet. " The Shitter"> I personally didnt find it horrible or traumatic, but I was young and tough as new leather then, I certainly wouldnt like to try it now some 45 years later. Sometimes after I had been there for a couple of years I would ask my boss to give me a couple of "overnights" in the shitter, you could sleep real hard in there, there was no noise, so he wouls help me get some sleep by giving me overnights.