Punishment for Possessing One Joint = Jail, Solitary Confinement, and Deportation

Continuing her incisive reporting on the travesty of immigrant detention in the United States, the New York Times‘s Nina Bernstein  yesterday documented the three-year nightmare of a legal immigrant from Haiti. Bernstein describes what happened to the young man after he was convicted of a non-criminal drug offense, considered so minor in the state of New York that it carries a fine smaller than some parking tickets.  […]

Federal Lawsuit Challenges 27 Years of Supermax Confinement

A suit brought by law students on behalf of one of the nation’s most most notorious supermax prisoners could break new ground in challenging long-term solitary confinement on Constitutional grounds. Earlier this year, we wrote about the case of Thomas Silverstein, who has now spent 27 years in solitary under a “no human contact” order–and who recently sued the Bureau of Prisons with […]

Devices of Torture in U.S. Prisons

Guest Post by Bonnie Kerness Editors’ note: As coordinator of the American Friends Service Committee’s Prison Watch Project, Bonnie Kerness is a leading voice for humanitarian reform of U.S. prisons, jails, and detention centers. Kerness is also a pioneer in raising awareness about the use of prolonged solitary confinement, and in uncompromisingly identifying the practice as a form […]

If You Build It, They Will Come: Obama Commits to Gitmo North

The federal government confirmed on Thursday that it plans to buy Thomson Correction Center. Obama has long envisioned the state prison in rural Illinois as a new home for the detainees from the so-called war on terror who are currently housed at Guantanamo Bay. But it is quite possible that no Gitmo residents will ever live there.  According to Lynn Sweet’s […]

Ask Shamu: The U.S. Tortures Both Human and Animal Prisoners

The terms “torture” and “solitary confinement” have surfaced over and over again in articles and commentaries about Tilikum, the captive killer whale who drowned his trainer at Florida’s SeaWorld last month. For the most part, the authors of these pieces have sought mercy for Tilikum. While the six-ton orca had been implicated in two previous human deaths, they argue, Tilikum’s torturous life in […]

Cruel Punishment Is Not Unusual for Clarence Thomas

Veteran New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse has an opinion piece today on Clarence Thomas’s “silent but sure” stance on prisons, and “specifically the meaning of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against ‘cruel and unusual punishment.’” Thomas’s position is highly relevant to the issue of solitary confinement, since critics of long-term lockdown argue that it violates […]

Teen Kills Himself After Being Put in Solitary for...Trying to Kill Himself

CHILDREN IN LOCKDOWN Yesterday we wrote about a death row prisoner who was revived after an attempted suicide on the eve of his execution. Today, the grim absurdities continue, with the story of a young, mentally ill inmate in Indiana who was placed in disciplinary segregation (solitary confinement) in response to a suicide attempt–and once there, committed suicide. […]

Dead Man Killing Himself

One of the many grotesque realities involved in the administration of the death penalty is the fact that condemned prisoners are not permitted to kill themselves; that privilege is reserved for the state. Lawrence Reynolds was scheduled to be executed by the state of Ohio at 10 a.m. today. But at the appointed time, Lawrence was in the hospital, […]

House Republicans Explain Why They Oppose Ban on Child Abuse in Schools

Our post about H.R. 4247, the Keeping All Students Safe Act–which bans excessive use of physical restraints, solitary confinement, and other abusive treatment in the nation’s schools–brought in a lot of comments, both on this site and on others sites that picked up the story. Several readers asked what reasons those 153 members of Congress (145 Republicans and […]