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Solitary Confinement . . . By George Swanson. Left click to advance. Solitary Confinement . . . Is it torture?. Torture. . . . any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person . . . . – U.N. Convention Against Torture, Article 1.1.

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Solitary confinement by george swanson l.jpg

Solitary Confinement . . .By George Swanson

Left click to advance.


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Solitary Confinement . . .

Is it torture?


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Torture


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. . . any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person . . . .

– U.N.Convention Against Torture, Article 1.1


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physical


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physical

and


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physical

and

mental


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Some Physical Torture


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Some Physical Torture

A swat team cuts the orange jump suit off an inmate in handcuffs and leg irons. He keeps screaming as they carry him naked through the Maine supermax.


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Some Physical Torture


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Some Physical Torture

Black helmeted officers strap the inmate in a restraint chair. He continues to scream as one officer holds his head and Maces him in the face.


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Some Physical Torture


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Some Physical Torture

Charles Graner cocks his fist above Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib


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Some Physical Torture

He may have learned torture working in a Pennsylvania supermax.


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Some Physical Torture

We sentenced him to 10 years in Leavenworth for doing what we trained him to do.


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Mostly Mental Torture

Isolation is the worst thing we do to people.

̶ Washington State Prison Official


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Mostly Mental Torture

Solitary confinement left prisoners in a semi-fatuous condition.

̶ U.S. Supreme Court, 1890


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Mostly Mental Torture

16 to 19 year olds became like Zombies.

̶ N.Y. State Supermax Chaplain


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Mostly Mental Torture

Solitary confinement is dehumanizing.

̶ Lorna Rhodes, Anthropologist


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Eastern State Prison, Philadelphia, 1822Solitary Confinement


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Charles Dickens saw it and wrote:


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I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain, to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body.


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And because its ghastly signs and tokens are not so palpable to the eye and sense of touch as scars upon the flesh . . .


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. . . because its wounds are not upon the surface, and it extorts few cries that human ears can hear . . .


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. . . therefore I the more denounce it, as a secret punishment which slumbering humanity is not roused up to stay.


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Solitary Confinement

23 Hours a Day


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An inmate looks at the photographer through the slotwhere he gets his food and where he is handcuffed.


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Solitary Confinement de Tocqueville visited American prisons in 1833

He wrote:

  • We saw the evil effect of solitude.

  • This system, fatal to the health of the criminals, was likewise inefficient in producing their reform.


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A Solitary Confinement Cell

  • 7 feet by 12 feet with small slit window opening on sky and prison wall. No grass or trees in sight.

  • Shower works on timer.

  • Small B/W TV for educational programs, some prisoners only.

    BBC web Site Drawing


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A Solitary Confinement Cell

4.Heavy steel door or grate with small slot for handcuffing or food. Slot may be coated with dried blood, feces and urine.

  • Writing desk.

  • Toilet which shuts off if blocked.

  • Sink.

  • Steel mirror, not smashable glass.

    BBC web site drawing


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U.S. Supreme Court1890

  • Solitary confinement left prisoners in a semi-fatuous condition.

  • The justices saw it as a form of what some people now call no-touch torture.

    ̶ History Professor Alfred W. McCoy

    University of Wisconsin at Madison


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A Typical CellIn the federal supermax prison in Florence, Colorado

A solitary confinement prison is called a “supermax.”


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California’s Pelican Bay Supermax

The X-shaped prison holds 1,300 inmates in solitary.


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California’s Pelican Bay Supermax

A naked inmate spreads his toes & buttocks. He is handcuffed through the cuff and food slot before leaving his cell.


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Solitary Confinement

Belongs with

  • The rack

  • The thumbscrew

  • The wheel

  • Protracted questioning & cross questioning

  • And other ingenious forms of entrapment

    ̶ U.S. Supreme Court 1940


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Solitary disrupts profoundly the sense of the personality.

̶ The U.S. Senate 1994


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The Federal Supermax 400 prisoners in solitary confinement


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Internationally honored criminologist Hans Tochsays . . .

A supermax . . .

Impairs the mental health of prisoners.


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Hans TochWorld Acclaimed Criminologist Says,

A supermax . . .

Is a gulag.


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Hans TochWorld Acclaimed Criminologist Says,

A supermax . . .

Is reminiscent of traditional inquisitory tribunals.


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Hans TochWorld Acclaimed Criminologist Says,

In a supermax . . .

Officers and prisoners are situationally dehumanized.


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Hans TochWorld Acclaimed Criminologist Says,

In a supermax . . .

Youthful prisoners regressed into something less than human.


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Father Joseph Romano NY State supermax chaplain

He saw 16-to-19-year-old inmates.


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Father Joseph Romano NY State Supermax Chaplain

He says,

The light went out in their eyes.


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Father Joseph Romano NY State Supermax Chaplain

He says,

They became like zombies.


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Father Joseph Romano NY State Supermax Chaplain

He says,

I’d talk to them through the food slot, and all I got backwas a blank stare.


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Father Joseph Romano NY State Supermax Chaplain

He says,

I spent a lot of time trying to console scared kids who cried and cried.


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Father Joseph Romano NY State Supermax Chaplain

He says,

The supermax is only about punishment and breaking down these guys.


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Solitary Confinement

Maine keeps 100 prisoners in solitary confinement.

That’s more than in the whole country of England


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Lance TapleyJournalist in Augusta writes about Maine’s supermax . . .

It is torture.


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Lance TapleyJournalist in Augusta writes about Maine’s supermax . . .

It is isolation – sometimes for years.


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Lance TapleyJournalist in Augusta writes about Maine’s supermax . . .

23 hours a day in a tiny cell.


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Lance TapleyJournalist in Augusta writes about Maine’s supermax . . .

It is sensory deprivation.


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Lance TapleyJournalist in Augusta writes about Maine’s supermax . . .

Some prisoners howl in constant agony.


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Lance TapleyJournalist in Augusta writes about Maine’s supermax . . .

Inadequate food is shoved through an unsanitary slot in the door.


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Anthropologist Lorna Rhodes had free access to the Washington State supermax for ten years.


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“A truly remarkable book. The inside look at supermax confinement alone is worth the price of admission. This is meticulous scholarship.”

̶ Hans Toch, criminologist


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As a result of this book Washington State is considering changes to its whole prison system.


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Rhodes writes:

Solitary confinement is dehumanizing.


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Rhodes writes:

Disturbed mental states are addressed

by imposing conditions that further

disturb the mind.


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Rhodes writes:

One officer opens the cuffport and stands carefully to one side while the other, who is dressed in a waterproof jumpsuit, quickly pushes in the food tray. Sometimes inmates stab them through the opening or hurl feces or urine at them.


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Rhodes listened:

It builds you into a monster because it hardens your feelings. ̶ Inmate


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Rhodes listened:

On the third day I started going wall to wall, banging myself. ̶ Inmate


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Rhodes listened:

I’m like Cerberus at the gates of hell.

̶ Psychiatrist who screens new inmates


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Rhodes listened:

I just went off, spitting, urinating….

If they feel like I’m gonna be a badass, why not? ̶ Inmate


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Rhodes listened:

Isolation is the worst thing we do to people.

̶ Washington State Prison Official


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  • Alcatraz prison was closed in 1963

    250 inmates


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  • Alcatraz prison was closed in 1963

    250 inmates

  • Marion Illinois supermax took its place

    500 inmates


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  • Alcatraz prison was closed in 1963

    250 inmates

  • Marion Illinois supermax took its place

    500 inmates

  • We’re building more supermaxes

    50,000 inmates in solitary and growing


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Alcatraz – you could talk to somebody


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Supermax – you’re all by yourself


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Supermax PrisonsTime Magazine, January 2007

Cell resembles nothing so much as a large, concrete closet.


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Supermax PrisonsTime Magazine, January 2007

Majority of Texas and California inmate suicides occur in solitary.


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Supermax PrisonsTime Magazine, January 2007

Prisoners' brain waves shift toward a pattern characteristic of stupor and delirium.


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Supermax PrisonsTime Magazine, January 2007

Within 48 hours the breakdown is even worse when sensory deprivation is added.


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Supermax PrisonsTime Magazine, January 2007

Demolish their psyches while they're in prison, and nobody's safer when they get out.


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Time Quotes Harvard PsychiatristStuart Grassian

We have to ask ourselves why we're doing this.


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Time Quotes Harvard PsychiatristStuart Grassian

These aren't a bunch of cold, controlled James Cagneys.


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Time Quotes Harvard PsychiatristStuart Grassian

We're taking criminals who are already unstable and driving them crazy.


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Dr. George HunsingerProfessor, Princeton Theological Seminary

Solitary traumatizes people for life.


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Torture

. . . any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person . . . .

– U.N.Convention Against Torture, Article 1.1


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The jury votes:

Is solitary confinement torture?

  • “Yes! Fatal to health”

    – de Tocqueville


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The jury votes:

Is solitary confinement torture?

  • “Yes! Shatters the mind”

    – U.S. Supreme Court


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The jury votes:

Is solitary confinement torture?

  • “Yes! It is a gulag.”

    – Hans Toch


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The jury votes:

Is solitary confinement torture?

  • “Yes! Dehumanizing.”

    – Lorna Rhodes


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The jury votes:

Is solitary confinement torture?

  • “Yes! We’re driving them crazy.”

    – Stuart Grassian


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The jury votes:

Is solitary confinement torture?

  • “Yes! Kids become zombies.”

    – Father Joseph Romano


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The jury votes:

Is solitary confinement torture?

  • “Yes! Some howl in constant agony.”

    – Lance Tapley


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The jury votes:

Is solitary confinement torture?

  • “Yes! It disrupts personality.”

    – U.S. Senate


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The jury votes:

Is solitary confinement torture?

  • The foreman asks us.


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How do you vote?


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Is solitary confinement torture?


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If it is . . .

  • Write President Obama that we should not torture prisoners in American prisons.


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If it is . . .

  • Write the National Institute of Corrections to prohibit torture in corrections.


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If it is . . .

  • Ask the governor to close the state supermax.


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If it is . . .

  • Send a copy of your letter to the newspapers.


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If it is . . .

  • Schedule a program

    on prisons for your

    library,

    school,

    church,

    whatever.


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If it is . . .

  • Ask our state & federal representatives not to spend our taxes on supermax torture.

  • Send a copy to the newspapers.


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If it is . . .

Decide how

you’ll. . .


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Speak

your

mind.


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