Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Solitary confinement closely examined

I wanted to point out a couple of recent resources on issues surrounding solitary confinement.

First, Doug Berman recently pointed out "this new report coming from the New York Civil Liberties Union titled "Boxed In: The True Cost of Extreme Isolation in New York's Prisons." This NYCLU webpage, from which the report can be downloaded, provide a summary of its scope and contents."

Meanwhile, the national ACLU has produced a new report on solitary confinement in the juvenile system titled "Growing up locked down: Youth in solitary confinement in jails and prisons across the United States." See a good write-up from Human Rights Watch and coverage from ABC News titled, "Rights groups: Ban solitary confinement of youths."

As always, James Ridgeway's Solitary Watch is the go-to blog source on these topics, and since his name came up, I'd also recommend Ridgeway's recent essay in Mother Jones, "The other death penalty: Aging and dying in prison.?" You can read the full article here, and view an accompanying photo essay by Tim Gruber, shot inside a Kentucky prison’s nursing unit, here.

3 comments:

  1. Texas Youth Commission Gatesville State School for Boys circa 1974-1977

    Crises Intervention Center (CIC) aka Lock Up

    During a time when TYC was spending everything it could to protect itself from Federal intervention in the form of the Morales vs. Turman law suit, the Gatesville facility was on life support. The Gatesville reception center where all new male inmates arriving to TYC had been moved to a newer facility in Brownwood and 2 wings at the old reception center in Gatesville were striped to nothing and used for CIC. According to historical witnesses this was an upgrade from the facility used at Hilltop.

    Many of the boys who would have otherwise wound up in the Gatesville facility were rerouted to the recently made co-ed state school for girls in Gainesville, the boy’s home in Giddings or remained in Brownwood and sent up the hill to the main school. At the time the old colored school for girls in Crocket was being used as a co-ed wilderness program.

    A court order from the MvT case forced staff to stop the random beatings of juvenile inmates and many Gatesville dorm staff quit their state jobs because of a fear they would be unable to control the population.Those that stayed either evolved or were let go with cause, while those who struggled and having seniority were transferred to work CIC.

    Maximum length of stay for a boy was 3 days; any stay longer up to 10 days required a phone call to Austin. Any stay longer than 10 days up to 30 days required a letter stating reason and every 30 days thereafter. There was only one rule in CIC, absolute quietness. Violation of this rule, depending on the mood of the staff, the penalty was deeper isolation in another wing and generally came with a beating. If you became loud enough to be heard in the other wing the penalty was being hung on the wall, also accompanied with a beating. The beating was always 2 or more grown men to one boy.

    To accommodate the hanging of a boy on the wall the cell had tall windows with thick bars. The widows at one time could be opened but were sealed. However there was enough room to place a handcuff between the bar and outer thick glass on each side of the window and hang a boy by his wrist where he stood on tiptoe. Minimum length for hanging on the wall was 2 hours. Further noise rule violation would increase the time and in many cases was accompany with a beating.

    For TYC at this time this methodology was considered humane in comparison to the decades earlier.

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  2. Also see: American Friends Service Committee (Tucson, AZ) recent investigation and report: Lifetime Lockdown: how isolation conditions impact prsioners' reentry." It's excellent.

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