"Outsourcing Punishment" and the Privatization of Justice

It’s common knowledge, at this point, that the move toward private prisons has made conditions in the American corrections system even more dismal than it was before, as private contractors cut costs and services in order to maximize profits. But even more than this, outsourcing punishment to the private sector constitutes a privatization of justice itself. That’s the point made […]

Solitary Confinement Is a "Challenge for Medical Ethics"

Anyone interested in solitary confinement should be aware of this article in the most recent issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law: “Solitary Confinement and Mental Illness in U.S. Prisons: A Challenge for Medical Ethics,” by Jeffrey L. Metzner, MD and Jamie Fellner, Esq. Metzner is a respected forensic psychiatrist and professor at the University of […]

Obama’s First Military Tribunal: Child Soldier Tortured at Bagram and Gitmo

 Today, the Obama Administration will begin its first trial of a prisoner held at Guantanamo Bay. The defendant is Omar Khadr, a Canadian national who was 15 when his alleged crime took place eight years ago. Since that time, Khadr has been abused, threatened, and held is solitary confinement for long periods at both Bagram and Gitmo. Daphne Eviatar […]

Voices from Solitary: Life on Level 3, Texas Death Row

In many prisons, there are different “levels” of solitary confinement, with differences in their living conditions, degree of isolation, and the handful of “privileges”–visits, phone calls, personal hygenine products and reading materials, and in some cases even blankets–afforded to prisoners there. At Lousiana’s Angola prison, for example, there are three levels of solitary confinement: The long-term solitary isolation unit is called […]

Voices from Solitary: Gang "Validation" and Permanent Isolation in California Prisons

In prisons throughout the country, perceived gang membership is one of the leading reasons for placement in solitary confinement. In California alone, hundreds of prisoners are in Security Housing Units (SHUs) because they have been “validated” as gang members. The validation procedure used by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) employs such criteria as tattoos, reading materials, […]

Pennsylvania Legislators Hold Hearings on Solitary Confinement

On Monday, members of the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee hosted public hearings on solitary confinement in Yeadon, a western suburb of Philadelphia. As reported in the local Delaware County Daily Times (and nowhere else): A public hearing on the effectiveness of solitary confinement in state prisons drew cheers from the audience for two former inmates and jeers […]