Use of Solitary Confinement: State Bar Ass. Calls on N.Y. …

State Bar Association Calls on New York to “Profoundly Restrict” Its Use of Solitary Confinement

Upstate supermax prison in Malone, New York

The New York State Bar Association last week passed a resolution calling for a dramatic transformation and curtailment of solitary and other forms of isolated confinement it its state prisons and city jails. The strongly worded resolution, written by NYSBA’s Civil Rights Committee, cites “the damage caused by prolonged solitary confinement and the ability to ensure prison and public safety without resorting to its use.”It urges the New York State legislature to hold hearings on solitary confinement, and on Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the state and city departments of corrections to undertake sweeping changes in their prison practices.

After laying out the problem, the document presents the following resolution:

RESOLVED, that the New York State Bar Association calls upon the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) and New York City Department of Correction (DOC) to profoundly restrict the use of long-term solitary confinement, by adopting clear and objective standards to ensure that prisoners are separated from the general prison population only in very limited and very legitimate circumstances and only for the briefest period and under the least restrictive conditions practicable.

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the New York State Bar Association calls upon the Commissioners of DOCCS and DOC to adopt stringent criteria, protocols and safeguards for separating violent or vulnerable prisoners, including clear and objective standards to ensure that prisoners are separated only in limited and legitimate circumstances for the briefest period and under the least restrictive conditions practicable; and auditing the current population in extreme isolation to identify people who should not be in the SHU, transitioning them back to the general prison population, and reducing the number of SHU beds accordingly.

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the New York State Bar Association urges the Governor of New York State, the Mayor of the City of New York and the Commissioners of DOCCS and DOC to take necessary steps to proscribe the imposition of long-term solitary confinement on persons in the custody of DOCCS and DOC beyond 15 days.

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the New York State Bar Association calls upon the State Legislature to hold public hearings to inquire into the harmful effects of long-term solitary confinement and to solicit both professional and academic commentary on the matter and comments from persons who have been placed in long-term solitary confinement, and to otherwise conduct these hearings in a manner that will best inform lawmakers and the public at large regarding the effects of long-term isolation.

An excellent report attached to the resolution takes as its epigraph a statement from a former prisoner at Guantanamo: ”Please torture me in the old way … Here they destroy people mentally and physically without leaving marks.”

The report traces the history of solitary confinement both nationally and in New York State; documents the psychological and physical damage caused by isolation and its widespread abandonment by the international community; and notes that solitary is counterproductive to the goals of prisoner protection, discipline, rehabilitation, and reintegration.” It concludes:

Policy makers looking for guidance should first remember that “conditions of confinement that deprive prisoners of the minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities” offend not just the conscience, but the U.S. Constitution. It should be kept in mind that these conditions can easily, perhaps even reliably, lead to legal exposure for prison administrators and state officials who choose to employ it without strict guidelines and significant restrictions on the length of time that inmates can be placed in solitary confinement. In every relevant way, long term solitary confinement is counter-productive to the legitimate penological interests of both state officials and prison administrators and to the public safety interests of the public at large.

In light of the foregoing, solitary confinement, if used at all, should be measured in days, not years, months, or even weeks, ensuring that all prisoners, regardless of their conditions of confinement, have some minimal measure of interactive activity so that their psyche does not begin to deteriorate. Preventing psychological harm to inmates encourages institutional safety, security and discipline by preventing the development of serious mental illnesses which exacerbate the problems that supermax and SHU-style detention are intended to solve. Abandoning long term solitary confinement alleviates these problems while ensuring that the health and dignity of prison inmates remains intact.

invitation from amnesty international: come to annapolis! Hearings scheduled on DP repeal bill

Maryland Death Penalty Repeal Update January 31, 2013 Hello Abolitionists, Come to Annapolis!

Hearings have been scheduled on the death penalty repeal bill (SB 276 and HB 295) and we need to pack two hearing rooms on the afternoon of February 14: · The Senate and House committee hearing are simultaneous this year.

Gov. O’Malley will be first to testify in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee at 1 p.m. on Thursday, February 14 and will then move to the House Judiciary Committee. In each committee, O’Malley’s testimony will be followed by panels of speakers – elected officials, murder victims’ family members, clergy and law enforcement – in support of repeal. Make plans now to come to Annapolis to support death penalty repeal.

If you have not done so, call your state Senator and Delegates TODAY and urge them to vote “yes” on this year’s repeal bill. We expect this bill to move very quickly, so time is of the essence. You can find your state representatives at mdelect.net. Type your full address into the bar at the top and your elected leaders in Annapolis will appear near the bottom of the left column. You can click directly on those links to find their contact information. If you already know who your reps are, call the General Assembly at 800-492-7122 or 410-841-3000.

Sign the petition at SignOn.org

http://signon.org/sign/repeal-marylands-death.

Are you a religious leader? If so, sign the religious leader sign-on letter at http://www.mdcase.org/node/198 no later than 5 p.m. Monday, February 4 and plan to attend Religious Leader Lobby Day on Wednesday, February 6 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. More information is available from mdcase.org/node/237. Use social media for social good. If you use Twitter, keep tweeting in support of death penalty repeal, and be sure to use the hashtags #mdrepeal, #EndMDDP and #mdga13.

If you have any questions, comments or feedback, feel free to contact our SDPACs,

Andrea Hall (andreainrockville@yahoo.com)

or Kevin Scruggs (kevin.a.scruggs@gmail.com).

Thanks again for your interest in abolishing the death penalty! In Solidarity, Andrea, Kevin, and the Amnesty International USA Death

Christopher Sepulvado`s Case: but: “Dum spiro, spero” (Cicero)

Roman executioner Giovanni Battista Bugatti (&...

Roman executioner Giovanni Battista Bugatti (“Mastro Titta”) offering snuff to a condemned prisoner prior to execution. From a 19th century woodcut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BUT!

Dum spiro spero

Das Zitat Dum spiro, spero stammt von Cicero, ad Atticum 9,11 und bedeutet in der deutschen Übersetzung “Solange ich atme, hoffe ich“. “as long I am breathing as long I am hoping (?)

 

Das Zitat Dum spiro, spero stammt von Cicero, ad Atticum 9,11 und bedeutet in der deutschen Übersetzung “Solange ich atme, hoffe ich“.

Louisiana Supreme Court doesn’t stop Christopher Sepulvado execution

by LOST IN THE SYSTEM

See on Scoop.itCIRCLE OF HOPE

Two separate attempts to stop next month’s execution of a former Mansfield man who killed his 6-year-old stepson almost 20 years ago have been denied by the Louisiana Supreme Court.

pending executions february 2013

Judge Thomas J. Devine

Judge Thomas J. Devine (Photo credit: SMU Central University Libraries)

Got this information by e-mail from LOST IN THE SYSTEM – thank You!

Pending Executions February 2013

by LOST IN THE SYSTEM

See on Scoop.it – CIRCLE OF HOPE

Pending Executions February 2013

Circle of Hope’s insight:

13* Chris Sepulvado        Louisiana

21* Carl Blue Texas

26* Paul Howell Florida

27   Larry Swearingen Texas

 

CHRIS SEPULVADO  – LOUISIANA EXECUTION DATE 13TH JANUARY 2013

Gov Contact details

http://www.gov.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=form&tmp=email_governor

 

Louisiana Board of Pardons

504 Mayflower Street, Bldg 6

Baton Rouge, LA 70802

Phone: 225/342-5421

Fax: 225/342-2289

 

———————————————————-

 

CARL BLUE – TEXAS – EXECUTION DATE 21ST February 2013

Gov Contact details

http://governor.state.tx.us/contact/

 

 

 

 

Office of the Governor

P.O. Box 12428

Austin, Texas 78711-2428

 

 

 

Information and Referral Hotline [for Texas callers] :

(800) 843-5789

 

Information and Referral and Opinion Hotline [for Austin, Texas and out-of-state callers] :

(512) 463-1782

 

Office of the Governor Main Switchboard :

(512) 463-2000

 

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles

8610 Shoal Creek Blvd

Austin, TX 78757

Phone: 512/406-5852

Fax: 512/467- 0945

 

please sign the petition

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/stop-the-execution-of-carl-blue-commute-his-sentence-to-life-in-priso

 

——————————————————-

 

PAUL HOWELL – FLORIDA – EXECUTION DATE 26TH FEBRUARY 2013

 

http://www.flgov.com/contact-gov-scott/

 

 

Florida Governor Rick Scott

The Capitol

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

Fax:(850)487-0801

Tel:(850)488-7146 11/02

 

 

Florida Parole Commission

4070 Esplanade Way

Tallahassee, Florida 32399

Phone: 850/488-2952

Fax: 850/488-0695

 

————————————————————

 

LARRY SWEARINGEN – TEXAS – EXECUTION DATE 27TH FEBRUARY 2013

Gov Contact details

http://governor.state.tx.us/contact/

 

 

Office of the Governor

P.O. Box 12428

Austin, Texas 78711-2428

 

Information and Referral Hotline [for Texas callers] :

(800) 843-5789

 

Information and Referral and Opinion Hotline [for Austin, Texas and out-of-state callers] :

(512) 463-1782

 

Office of the Governor Main Switchboard :

(512) 463-2000

 

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles

8610 Shoal Creek Blvd

Austin, TX 78757

Phone: 512/406-5852

Fax: 512/467- 0945

Bringing people out of shadow – of nameless shadow: Annamaria

FADP Update: Pauls Howell Execution scheduled for Febr. 26th: PETITION!!!

The execution of Olympe de Gouges

The execution of Olympe de Gouges (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

FADP Update

Friends,
Paul Howell execution scheduled for Tuesday, February 26th at 6pm ET.
Execution moratorium petition needs your help.
Huffington Post on FL effort to speed up executions.
NAACP’s Ben Jealous on abolition.
Shine the light,
—Mark
Gov. Rick Scott has ordered Paul Howell be executed on Tuesday, Feb. 26th at 6pm ET. Please contact the governor’s office and ask him to suspend executions to investigate Florida’s Death Penalty program that now has 24 Death Row exonerations – far more than any other state. Just last month Seth Penalver was freed after almost 18 years.
Governor Rick Scott – Phone 850-488-7146. Rick.Scott@eog.myflorida.com.
Please sign and share the Florida execution moratorium petition.
Incredibly, instead of suspending executions to find out how so many wrongfully convicted people could be sentenced to death, Florida legislators are looking at ways to “speed up” executions. This would virtually guarantee the execution of innocent people. The average time the 24 exonerees spent on Death Row prior to exoneration is 7.5 years and some were there almost 20 years. Read the Huffington Post story here.
This 1 minute video of NAACP President, Benjamin Jealous, speaking about the Maryland effort to repeal the Death Penalty is well worth watching. The inspiring points he makes are even more so for Florida.
Please contact your Florida legislators and ask them to support Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda’s HB 4005 that would end Florida’s use of the Death Penalty.
2013 is shaping up to be an absolutely critical year for our movement. Efforts are afoot in Tallahassee to “speed up” executions. There will be intense challenges and new opportunities. We will be working VERY hard on both offense and defense and MUST be positioned with the means to beat back these challenges and seize opportunities. FADP is an all-volunteer coalition. We need your help for the basic necessities of an effective campaign. Please help.
“If not us, who?  If not now, when?” – John F. Kennedy.
Shine the light,
—Mark
 
Sent by:
Mark Elliott
Executive Director
 
Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, fadp.org
P.O. Box 82943
Tampa, FL 33682
 
Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty is a coalition of organizations and individuals united to abolish the Death Penalty in Florida.
 
FADP works to build a strong, diverse, statewide grassroots movement which:
* Opposes executions
* Supports reforms aimed at reducing the application of the Death Penalty until it is abolished
* Protects the humanity of all persons impacted by the Death Penalty
* Educates Floridians about the Death Penalty
* Provides concrete action steps for individuals and groups

texas woman´s execution halted!

http://www.11alive.com/rss/article/274773/40/

Texas-womans-execution-halted

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) – Dallas County prosecutors say they aren’t appealing a state judge’s decision to halt the scheduled Tuesday evening execution of a Texas woman. Kimberly McCarthy, 51, would have been the first woman put to death in the U.S. since 2010. State District Judge Larry Mitchell issued a reprieve for McCarthy less than five hours before she was scheduled to be taken to the death chamber for the 1997 slaying of a neighbor. Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Shelly Yeatts says McCarthy’s execution date is April 3. HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) – Dallas County prosecutors say they aren’t appealing a state judge’s decision to halt the scheduled Tuesday evening execution of a Texas woman. Kimberly McCarthy, 51, would have been the first woman put to death in the U.S. since 2010. State District Judge Larry Mitchell issued a reprieve for McCarthy less than five hours before she was scheduled to be taken to the death chamber for the 1997 slaying of a neighbor. Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Shelly Yeatts says McCarthy’s execution date is April 3. Related articles Texas: Kimberly McCarthy, to die next week looses CLEMENCY BID (imprisonedwomen.wordpress.com) Texas Woman, Kimbery McCarthy, to die next week looses CLEMENCY BID (inprisonedwomen.wordpress.com) Texas Woman’s Execution Halted; DA Won’t Appeal (nation.time.com) Texas woman’s execution halted; DA won’t appeal (gazette.com)

Texas to execute first woman in US since 2010

Texas to execute first woman in US since 2010.

Texas to execute first woman in US since 2010

 

Texas Department of Criminal Justice via Reuters

Kimberly McCarthy is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Tuesday for the stabbing murder of her neighbor in 1997.

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A Texas woman convicted of the gruesome slaying and robbery of her neighbor, a retired 71-year-old college psychology professor, is set to be the first woman put to death in the United States since 2010.

A Dallas County jury already found former nursing home therapist Kimberly McCarthy guilty of the 1997 killing when evidence at the punishment phase of her trial tied her to two similar murders a decade earlier.

“Once the jury heard about those other two, we were certainly in a deep hole,” recalled McCarthy’s lead trial attorney, Doug Parks. Jurors decided McCarthy should die.

Her execution, set for Tuesday evening, would be the first since a Virginia inmate, Teresa Lewis, became the 12th woman put to death since the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976 allowed capital punishment to resume. In that same time, 1,309 men have been executed.

The 51-year-old McCarthy also would be the first woman executed in Texas in more than eight years and the fourth overall in the state, which executes the most people in the nation — 492 prisoners since capital punishment resumed 30 years ago.

McCarthy, who is black, was condemned for the July 1997 killing of neighbor Dorothy Booth in Lancaster, about 15 miles south of Dallas. All but one of McCarthy’s jurors were white.

On Friday, her attorneys asked Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins to delay the lethal injection, citing his interest in Texas adopting a law to allow death-row prisoners to base appeals on race. Watkins has not responded.

“It certainly doesn’t make me happy,” Parks said. “It’s a fact of life. … The reality is, with some exceptions, they’re going to execute your client.”

Ring cut from living victim
Evidence showed McCarthy, who has exhausted her court appeals, phoned Booth to borrow a cup of sugar, then attacked Booth
when she went to retrieve it. Booth was stabbed with a butcher knife, beaten with a large candle holder and robbed of a diamond wedding ring.

“(McCarthy) quite literally took the woman, put her left hand on a chopping block of the kitchen and then used a knife to sever her ring finger while she was still alive,” said Greg Davis, the former Dallas County assistant district attorney who prosecuted McCarthy. “She took the ring from the finger that had been severed and continued the attack until she finally killed her.”

Prosecutors showed McCarthy stole Booth’s Mercedes and drove to Dallas, pawned the ring for $200 and then went to a crack house to buy some cocaine. Evidence also showed she used Booth’s credit cards at a liquor store and was carrying Booth’s driver’s license.

Booth’s DNA was found on a 10-inch butcher knife recovered from McCarthy’s home. McCarthy was arrested after police found her name on a pawn shop receipt for the ring.

McCarthy was tried twice for Booth’s slaying, most recently in 2002. Her first conviction in 1998 was thrown out three years later by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which ruled police violated her rights by using a statement she made to them after asking for a lawyer.

Prosecutors presented DNA and fingerprint evidence that tied McCarthy to similar slayings of two other women in Dallas in December 1988. Maggie Harding, 81, was beaten with a meat tenderizer and stabbed.

Jettie Lucas, 85, was beaten with both sides of a claw hammer and stabbed. McCarthy was indicted but not tried for those slayings. She denied any involvement.

“When the jury saw the other two were equally gruesome, I think it sealed the deal for her,” Davis said.

McCarthy is a former wife of Aaron Michaels, founder of the New Black Panther Party, and he testified on her behalf. They had separated before Booth’s slaying.

McCarthy declined to speak with reporters as her execution date neared. She’s one of 10 women on death row in Texas but the only one with an execution date.

In 1998, Karla Faye Tucker, 38, became the first woman executed in Texas since the Civil War for a robbery in Houston where two people were killed with a pickax.

add to my Blog about: Belgian MP LAURENT LOUIS stands against war in Mali

English: Belgian Parliament Français : Parleme...

English: Belgian Parliament Français : Parlement Belge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Help Needed! – Downloading subtitles with YT video

http://youtu.be/WkzXTgslFNE it´s about this Video (http:// HumansinShadow.wordpress.com/inprisonedwomen.wordpress.com)

Doe’s anyone know how to included foreign language (to the video) subtitles with the video when downloading to use off line (as in DVD, USB stick etc.

here’s an example

……..
……

Published on Jan 22, 2013

CLICK ON THE SUBTITLE ICON for the TRANSLATION in ENGLISH.

Belgian MP LAURENT LOUIS stands against war in Mali and exposes the international neo-colonial plot at the Belgian Parliament.

On January the 17th, 32 years old Belgiam MP Laurent Louis, the most controversial and demonized national political figure ever, explained why he voted against the belgian support to war in Mali. Meanwhile, he expressed his disgust and wrath against the criminal foreign policies of the belgian elite and its submission to foreign financial and interests groups. For the first time at the Belgiam Parliament, he evokes that 9/11 was made up and says what no one before him has never dared to speak out!

Please share this exceptional moment of truth. There were other interventions as powerful from that man regarding the necessity to re-open the DUTROUX CASE, since he has been confronted to official pictures of the pedophile’s little victims that dramatically contradicted the official version of the cause of their death.

I’ll translate his intervention on that subject within the next days because too many dark secrets are poisoning our democracies, and because it seems like in the heart of EUROPE, dark secrets have become a raw material.
Thank’s for sharing. This man needs and deserve our support.

‘Companionship or Death’: Jewish Engagement With the Injustice of Solitary Confinement

Cousin Uri and Savta Etka

Cousin Uri and Savta Etka (Photo credit: Whistling in the Dark)

 

‘Companionship or Death’: Jewish Engagement With the Injustice of Solitary Confinement

Talmud (Ta’anit 23a), “Either companionship or death.”

http://newvoices.org/2013/01/22/a-jewish-approach-to-prisoners/

Op-Ed, Opinion | January 22, 2013 by  

Advocates set up a mock solitary confinement cell during the first ever congressional hearing on the subject of solitary confinement [CC: Dolores Panales]

If community is a foundation of Jewish life, what does Judaism have to say about solitary confinement, the forcible separation of a person from the community? A few months ago I began an internship with Solitary Watch, an investigative news organization dedicated to reporting on solitary confinement. Once I got started, I became interested in learning more about the work the American Jewish community organizes around this issue. 

It turns out there is a lot of work being done, though it started quite recently. Beginning in 2012, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights (recently renamed from Rabbis for Human Rights-North America), a coalition of 1,800 rabbis, and Uri L’Tzedek, a prominent liberal Modern Orthodox social justice organization, have both made the issue of solitary confinement a prominent part of their advocacy efforts.

Solitary confinement is a form of imprisonment where individuals are subjected to approximately 22-24 hours per day of isolated lockdown in tiny cells. Many Americans mistakenly believe that solitary confinement is used sparingly, only for the most dangerous or threatening prisoners. However, according the American Civil Liberties Union, there are more than 80,000 men, women and children currently in some sort of solitary confinement in United States prisons. Many have a mental illness or cognitive disability, and the majority has been placed there for nonviolent violations of prison rules.

The costs of solitary confinement are much higher than housing inmates in the general prison population. Mississippi recently reduced the number of prisoners it holds in solitary from 1,000 to about 150, and closed down their high-security Supermax unit. According to the ACLU, the reforms are saving Mississippi’s taxpayers approximately $8 million per year.

That economic perspective on solitary confinement is important, but there is a moral perspective to consider as well – and that is where the religious community can add a unique voice to the national conversation.

“We’re looking to provide some moral weight to the solitary confinement conversation by applying Jewish values,” said Shlomo Bolts, a prison consultant from Uri L’Tzedek.

“Sympathy for prisoners is not the most common sentiment amongst the American public. People do not want to be seen as weak or soft on crime,” said Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. “In the Torah however, it clearly says that if someone asks for forgiveness three times and you don’t forgive them, then the onus is on you. In Judaism we believe in repentance and that punishments don’t go on forever.”

While Uri L’Tzedek and T’ruah approach the issue of solitary confinement from a distinctly Jewish perspective, the scope of both groups’ work on the issue extends well beyond the Jewish community.

“We don’t want to make this a Jewish issue. We want to make it an American issue. As Americans we’re allowing for it to happen, we’re paying for it with our tax dollars,” said Kahn-Troster.

“We want to apply the Jewish values we learn to help all people,” said Bolts.

The two groups are part of a growing movement against solitary confinement. A feeling that the status quo is simply untenable is circulating in religious communities and among the politically engaged in general; change, while it may not be imminent, feels inevitable.

“This is an exciting time. We really do see ourselves as being a force to help pass legislation to abolish or reduce solitary confinement,” said Bolts.

In June, Senator Dick Durban (D-IL) led a congressional hearing on solitary confinement, the first in American history. The hearing focused on the human rights issues associated with isolation, the economic implications of solitary confinement and the psychological impact on inmates during and after their imprisonment.

Both T’ruah and Uri L’Tzedek contributed written testimony to the hearings. They also participated in the National Day of Fasting, an interfaith effort to raise awareness of the significance of the congressional hearing.

“Fasting serves as a way to repent and bear witness. For me to be at the congressional hearing, sitting with a group of religious leaders fasting was a very powerful experience,” said Rabbi Kahn-Troster.

Fasting also serves as an act of solidarity with prisoners in solitary confinement, for whom hunger strikes are often the only available form of protest.

“I think about the hunger strikers at Pelican Bay [a California Supermax facility]. They get poor food, and then they refuse to eat it in order to draw attention to their situation. When I fasted it really hit home what these people must be going through,” said Rabbi Kahn-Troster.

T’ruah and Uri L’Tzedek are also working with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. Founded in 2006 and comprised of more than 300 religious organizations, the campaign organizes protests against different forms of torture employed by the U.S., including those used at sites like Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.

Turning her organization’s focus toward solitary confinement now “seems like a natural outgrowth of our torture work,” said Rabbi Kahn-Troster.

Uri L’Tzedek and T’ruah now face the task of motivating American Jews to get more involved with the issue. Despite a history of involvement in a wide variety of social justice causes, the American Jewish community has generally avoided issues of prison reform.

“There is this misconception that Jews are somehow not incarcerated, yet Jews go to prison for the same reasons as everyone else,” said Chaplain Gary Friedman, chairman of Jewish Prisoner Services International, an organization that provides advocacy and spiritual services to Jewish prisoners and their families. Friedman estimates there are approximately 12,000-15,000 Jews in American prisons today, including some in solitary confinement.

Uri L’Tzedek’s approach to raising awareness is a mix of traditional advocacy combined with social science research led by the Tag Institute, a British-based think tank drive

‘Companionship or Death’: Jewish Engagement With the Injustice of Solitary Confinement

Op-Ed, Opinion | January 22, 2013 by | 0 Comments

Advocates set up a mock solitary confinement cell during the first ever congressional hearing on the subject of solitary confinement [CC: Dolores Panales]

If community is a foundation of Jewish life, what does Judaism have to say about solitary confinement, the forcible separation of a person from the community? A few months ago I began an internship with Solitary Watch, an investigative news organization dedicated to reporting on solitary confinement. Once I got started, I became interested in learning more about the work the American Jewish community organizes around this issue. 

It turns out there is a lot of work being done, though it started quite recently. Beginning in 2012, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights (recently renamed from Rabbis for Human Rights-North America), a coalition of 1,800 rabbis, and Uri L’Tzedek, a prominent liberal Modern Orthodox social justice organization, have both made the issue of solitary confinement a prominent part of their advocacy efforts.

Solitary confinement is a form of imprisonment where individuals are subjected to approximately 22-24 hours per day of isolated lockdown in tiny cells. Many Americans mistakenly believe that solitary confinement is used sparingly, only for the most dangerous or threatening prisoners. However, according the American Civil Liberties Union, there are more than 80,000 men, women and children currently in some sort of solitary confinement in United States prisons. Many have a mental illness or cognitive disability, and the majority has been placed there for nonviolent violations of prison rules.

The costs of solitary confinement are much higher than housing inmates in the general prison population. Mississippi recently reduced the number of prisoners it holds in solitary from 1,000 to about 150, and closed down their high-security Supermax unit. According to the ACLU, the reforms are saving Mississippi’s taxpayers approximately $8 million per year.

That economic perspective on solitary confinement is important, but there is a moral perspective to consider as well – and that is where the religious community can add a unique voice to the national conversation.

“We’re looking to provide some moral weight to the solitary confinement conversation by applying Jewish values,” said Shlomo Bolts, a prison consultant from Uri L’Tzedek.

“Sympathy for prisoners is not the most common sentiment amongst the American public. People do not want to be seen as weak or soft on crime,” said Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. “In the Torah however, it clearly says that if someone asks for forgiveness three times and you don’t forgive them, then the onus is on you. In Judaism we believe in repentance and that punishments don’t go on forever.”

While Uri L’Tzedek and T’ruah approach the issue of solitary confinement from a distinctly Jewish perspective, the scope of both groups’ work on the issue extends well beyond the Jewish community.

“We don’t want to make this a Jewish issue. We want to make it an American issue. As Americans we’re allowing for it to happen, we’re paying for it with our tax dollars,” said Kahn-Troster.

“We want to apply the Jewish values we learn to help all people,” said Bolts.

The two groups are part of a growing movement against solitary confinement. A feeling that the status quo is simply untenable is circulating in religious communities and among the politically engaged in general; change, while it may not be imminent, feels inevitable.

“This is an exciting time. We really do see ourselves as being a force to help pass legislation to abolish or reduce solitary confinement,” said Bolts.

In June, Senator Dick Durban (D-IL) led a congressional hearing on solitary confinement, the first in American history. The hearing focused on the human rights issues associated with isolation, the economic implications of solitary confinement and the psychological impact on inmates during and after their imprisonment.

Both T’ruah and Uri L’Tzedek contributed written testimony to the hearings. They also participated in the National Day of Fasting, an interfaith effort to raise awareness of the significance of the congressional hearing.

“Fasting serves as a way to repent and bear witness. For me to be at the congressional hearing, sitting with a group of religious leaders fasting was a very powerful experience,” said Rabbi Kahn-Troster.

Fasting also serves as an act of solidarity with prisoners in solitary confinement, for whom hunger strikes are often the only available form of protest.

“I think about the hunger strikers at Pelican Bay [a California Supermax facility]. They get poor food, and then they refuse to eat it in order to draw attention to their situation. When I fasted it really hit home what these people must be going through,” said Rabbi Kahn-Troster.

T’ruah and Uri L’Tzedek are also working with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. Founded in 2006 and comprised of more than 300 religious organizations, the campaign organizes protests against different forms of torture employed by the U.S., including those used at sites like Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.

Turning her organization’s focus toward solitary confinement now “seems like a natural outgrowth of our torture work,” said Rabbi Kahn-Troster.

Uri L’Tzedek and T’ruah now face the task of motivating American Jews to get more involved with the issue. Despite a history of involvement in a wide variety of social justice causes, the American Jewish community has generally avoided issues of prison reform.

“There is this misconception that Jews are somehow not incarcerated, yet Jews go to prison for the same reasons as everyone else,” said Chaplain Gary Friedman, chairman of Jewish Prisoner Services International, an organization that provides advocacy and spiritual services to Jewish prisoners and their families. Friedman estimates there are approximately 12,000-15,000 Jews in American prisons today, including some in solitary confinement.

Uri L’Tzedek’s approach to raising awareness is a mix of traditional advocacy combined with social science research led by the Tag Institute, a British-based think tank driven by Jewish social values. Among other things, Tag’s research seeks to generatIf community is a foundation of Jewish life, what does Judaism have to say about solitary confinement, the forcible separation of a person from the community? A few months ago I began an internship with Solitary Watch, an investigative news organization dedicated to reporting on solitary confinement. Once I got started, I became interested in learning more about the work the American Jewish community organizes around this issue.

It turns out there is a lot of work being done, though it started quite recently. Beginning in 2012, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights (recently renamed from Rabbis for Human Rights-North America), a coalition of 1,800 rabbis, and Uri L’Tzedek, a prominent liberal Modern Orthodox social justice organization, have both made the issue of solitary confinement a prominent part of their advocacy efforts.

Solitary confinement is a form of imprisonment where individuals are subjected to approximately 22-24 hours per day of isolated lockdown in tiny cells. Many Americans mistakenly believe that solitary confinement is used sparingly, only for the most dangerous or threatening prisoners. However, according the American Civil Liberties Union, there are more than 80,000 men, women and children currently in some sort of solitary confinement in United States prisons. Many have a mental illness or cognitive disability, and the majority has been placed there for nonviolent violations of prison rules.

The costs of solitary confinement are much higher than housing inmates in the general prison population. Mississippi recently reduced the number of prisoners it holds in solitary from 1,000 to about 150, and closed down their high-security Supermax unit. According to the ACLU, the reforms are saving Mississippi’s taxpayers approximately $8 million per year.

That economic perspective on solitary confinement is important, but there is a moral perspective to consider as well – and that is where the religious community can add a unique voice to the national conversation.

“We’re looking to provide some moral weight to the solitary confinement conversation by applying Jewish values,” said Shlomo Bolts, a prison consultant from Uri L’Tzedek.

“Sympathy for prisoners is not the most common sentiment amongst the American public. People do not want to be seen as weak or soft on crime,” said Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. “In the Torah however, it clearly says that if someone asks for forgiveness three times and you don’t forgive them, then the onus is on you. In Judaism we believe in repentance and that punishments don’t go on forever.”

While Uri L’Tzedek and T’ruah approach the issue of solitary confinement from a distinctly Jewish perspective, the scope of both groups’ work on the issue extends well beyond the Jewish community.

“We don’t want to make this a Jewish issue. We want to make it an American issue. As Americans we’re allowing for it to happen, we’re paying for it with our tax dollars,” said Kahn-Troster.

“We want to apply the Jewish values we learn to help all people,” said Bolts.

The two groups are part of a growing movement against solitary confinement. A feeling that the status quo is simply untenable is circulating in religious communities and among the politically engaged in general; change, while it may not be imminent, feels inevitable.

“This is an exciting time. We really do see ourselves as being a force to help pass legislation to abolish or reduce solitary confinement,” said Bolts.

In June, Senator Dick Durban (D-IL) led a congressional hearing on solitary confinement, the first in American history. The hearing focused on the human rights issues associated with isolation, the economic implications of solitary confinement and the psychological impact on inmates during and after their imprisonment.

Both T’ruah and Uri L’Tzedek contributed written testimony to the hearings. They also participated in the National Day of Fasting, an interfaith effort to raise awareness of the significance of the congressional hearing.

“Fasting serves as a way to repent and bear witness. For me to be at the congressional hearing, sitting with a group of religious leaders fasting was a very powerful experience,” said Rabbi Kahn-Troster.

Fasting also serves as an act of solidarity with prisoners in solitary confinement, for whom hunger strikes are often the only available form of protest.

“I think about the hunger strikers at Pelican Bay [a California Supermax facility]. They get poor food, and then they refuse to eat it in order to draw attention to their situation. When I fasted it really hit home what these people must be going through,” said Rabbi Kahn-Troster.

T’ruah and Uri L’Tzedek are also working with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. Founded in 2006 and comprised of more than 300 religious organizations, the campaign organizes protests against different forms of torture employed by the U.S., including those used at sites like Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.

Turning her organization’s focus toward solitary confinement now “seems like a natural outgrowth of our torture work,” said Rabbi Kahn-Troster.

Uri L’Tzedek and T’ruah now face the task of motivating American Jews to get more involved with the issue. Despite a history of involvement in a wide variety of social justice causes, the American Jewish community has generally avoided issues of prison reform.

“There is this misconception that Jews are somehow not incarcerated, yet Jews go to prison for the same reasons as everyone else,” said Chaplain Gary Friedman, chairman of Jewish Prisoner Services International, an organization that provides advocacy and spiritual services to Jewish prisoners and their families. Friedman estimates there are approximately 12,000-15,000 Jews in American prisons today, including some in solitary confinement.

Uri L’Tzedek’s approach to raising awareness is a mix of traditional advocacy combined with social science research led by the Tag Institute, a British-based think tank driven by Jewish social values. Among other things, Tag’s research seeks to generate quantitative survey data on the Jewish community’s perceptions of prisons and punitive punishment –and to find the most effective ways of organizing Jewish communities to advocate for humane alternatives to solitary confinement.

Meanwhile, T’ruah is mobilizing its network of 1,800 rabbis to raise the consciousness of members of their respective communities on the issue – and hopefully to inspire some activism about solitary confinement within their communities

As solitary confinement becomes an increasingly mainstream human rights issue, the work of the Jewish community is likely to grow and inspire further activism.

As it says in the TIf community is a foundation of Jewish life, what does Judaism have to say about solitary confinement, the forcible separation of a person from the community? A few months ago I began an internship with Solitary Watch, an investigative news organization dedicated to reporting on solitary confinement. Once I got started, I became interested in learning more about the work the American Jewish community organizes around this issue.

It turns out there is a lot of work being done, though it started quite recently. Beginning in 2012, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights (recently renamed from Rabbis for Human Rights-North America), a coalition of 1,800 rabbis, and Uri L’Tzedek, a prominent liberal Modern Orthodox social justice organization, have both made the issue of solitary confinement a prominent part of their advocacy efforts.

Solitary confinement is a form of imprisonment where individuals are subjected to approximately 22-24 hours per day of isolated lockdown in tiny cells. Many Americans mistakenly believe that solitary confinement is used sparingly, only for the most dangerous or threatening prisoners. However, according the American Civil Liberties Union, there are more than 80,000 men, women and children currently in some sort of solitary confinement in United States prisons. Many have a mental illness or cognitive disability, and the majority has been placed there for nonviolent violations of prison rules.

The costs of solitary confinement are much higher than housing inmates in the general prison population. Mississippi recently reduced the number of prisoners it holds in solitary from 1,000 to about 150, and closed down their high-security Supermax unit. According to the ACLU, the reforms are saving Mississippi’s taxpayers approximately $8 million per year.

That economic perspective on solitary confinement is important, but there is a moral perspective to consider as well – and that is where the religious community can add a unique voice to the national conversation.

“We’re looking to provide some moral weight to the solitary confinement conversation by applying Jewish values,” said Shlomo Bolts, a prison consultant from Uri L’Tzedek.

“Sympathy for prisoners is not the most common sentiment amongst the American public. People do not want to be seen as weak or soft on crime,” said Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. “In the Torah however, it clearly says that if someone asks for forgiveness three times and you don’t forgive them, then the onus is on you. In Judaism we believe in repentance and that punishments don’t go on forever.”

While Uri L’Tzedek and T’ruah approach the issue of solitary confinement from a distinctly Jewish perspective, the scope of both groups’ work on the issue extends well beyond the Jewish community.

“We don’t want to make this a Jewish issue. We want to make it an American issue. As Americans we’re allowing for it to happen, we’re paying for it with our tax dollars,” said Kahn-Troster.

“We want to apply the Jewish values we learn to help all people,” said Bolts.

The two groups are part of a growing movement against solitary confinement. A feeling that the status quo is simply untenable is circulating in religious communities and among the politically engaged in general; change, while it may not be imminent, feels inevitable.

“This is an exciting time. We really do see ourselves as being a force to help pass legislation to abolish or reduce solitary confinement,” said Bolts.

In June, Senator Dick Durban (D-IL) led a congressional hearing on solitary confinement, the first in American history. The hearing focused on the human rights issues associated with isolation, the economic implications of solitary confinement and the psychological impact on inmates during and after their imprisonment.

Both T’ruah and Uri L’Tzedek contributed written testimony to the hearings. They also participated in the National Day of Fasting, an interfaith effort to raise awareness of the significance of the congressional hearing.

“Fasting serves as a way to repent and bear witness. For me to be at the congressional hearing, sitting with a group of religious leaders fasting was a very powerful experience,” said Rabbi Kahn-Troster.

Fasting also serves as an act of solidarity with prisoners in solitary confinement, for whom hunger strikes are often the only available form of protest.

“I think about the hunger strikers at Pelican Bay [a California Supermax facility]. They get poor food, and then they refuse to eat it in order to draw attention to their situation. When I fasted it really hit home what these people must be going through,” said Rabbi Kahn-Troster.

T’ruah and Uri L’Tzedek are also working with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. Founded in 2006 and comprised of more than 300 religious organizations, the campaign organizes protests against different forms of torture employed by the U.S., including those used at sites like Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.

Turning her organization’s focus toward solitary confinement now “seems like a natural outgrowth of our torture work,” said Rabbi Kahn-Troster.

Uri L’Tzedek and T’ruah now face the task of motivating American Jews to get more involved with the issue. Despite a history of involvement in a wide variety of social justice causes, the American Jewish community has generally avoided issues of prison reform.

“There is this misconception that Jews are somehow not incarcerated, yet Jews go to prison for the same reasons as everyone else,” said Chaplain Gary Friedman, chairman of Jewish Prisoner Services International, an organization that provides advocacy and spiritual services to Jewish prisoners and their families. Friedman estimates there are approximately 12,000-15,000 Jews in American prisons today, including some in solitary confinement.

Uri L’Tzedek’s approach to raising awareness is a mix of traditional advocacy combined with social science research led by the Tag Institute, a British-based think tank driven by Jewish social values. Among other things, Tag’s research seeks to generate quantitative survey data on the Jewish community’s perceptions of prisons and punitive punishment –and to find the most effective ways of organizing Jewish communities to advocate for humane alternatives to solitary confinement.

Meanwhttp://newvoices.org/2013/01/22/a-jewish-approach-to-prisoners/hhttp://newvoices.org/2013/01/22/a-jewish-approach-to-prisoners/ile, T’ruah is mobilizing its network of 1,800 rabbis to raise the consciousness of members of their respective communities on the issue – and hopefully to inspire some activism about solitary confinement within their communities

As solitary confinement becomes an increasingly mainstream human rights issue, the work of the Jewish community is likely to grow and inspire further activism.

As it says in the Talmud (Ta’anit 23a), “Either companionship or death.”

e quantitative survey data on the Jewish community’s perceptions of prisons and punitive punishment –and to find the most effective ways of organizing Jewish communities to advocate for humane alternatives to solitary confinement.

Meanwhile, T’ruah is mobilizing its network of 1,800 rabbis to raise the consciousness of members of their respective communities on the issue – and hopefully to inspire some activism about solitary confinement within their communities

As solitary confinement becomes an increasingly mainstream human rights issue, the work of the Jewish community is likely to grow and inspire further activism.

As it says in the Talmud (Ta’anit 23a), “Either companionship or death.”

n by Jewish social values. Among other things, Tag’s research seeks to generate quantitative survey data on the Jewish community’s perceptions of prisons and punitive punishment –and to find the most effective ways of organizing Jewish communities to advocate for humane alternatives to solitary confinement.

Meanwhile, T’ruah is mobilizing its network of 1,800 rabbis to raise the consciousness of members of their respective communities on the issue – and hopefully to inspire some activism about solitary confinement within their communities

As solitary confinement becomes an increasingly mainstream human rights issue, the work of the Jewish community is likely to grow and inspire further activism.

As it says in the Talmud (Ta’anit 23a), “Either companionship or death.”

Originally posted on My Blog Women in Jail:

<:header> 

Marie, 51, in Federal Medical Center, Carswell

Solidarity With Marie In North Carolina

January 28, 2013
 

marie_mason

From Croatan Earth First!

A banner posted to the fence at the disputed CVS building that was squatted/occupied last year as a campaign of resisting corporate development; at the corner of Weaver St. and Greensboro St in Carrboro, NC on  Sunday January 27th.
This banner was posted the day after a local eco-prisoner letter writing night in celebration of Marie Mason’s birthday.

From her support page:

“January 26, 2012, is Marie Mason’s 51st birthday, which she is celebrating locked in a special control unit in the federal prison in Carswell, Texas. Marie is three years into her almost twenty-two year sentence.

Following a December call-out, events for Marie’s birthday have been held in countries around the world. They include Wellington, New Zealand; Haifa, Israel;

View original 214 more words