Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement

SIGN UP FOR MS. DIGEST, JOBS, NEWS AND ALERTS

FEMINIST WIRE NEWSBRIEFS

ABOUT
SEE CURRENT ISSUE
SHOP MS. STORE
MS. IN THE CLASSROOM
FEMINIST DAILY WIRE
FEMINIST RESOURCES
PRESS
JOBS AT MS.
READ BACK ISSUES
CONTACT
RSS (XML)
 
feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

October-24-13

UN Human Rights Expert Urges US to End Prolonged Solitary Confinement

An independent United Nations human rights expert called on the U.S. this month to stop the use of prolonged or indefinite solitary confinement.

Juan E. Mendez, Special Rapporteur on torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, referenced the Angola Three in his remarks condemning the practice. The Angola Three refers to three inmates sent to solitary confinement in Louisiana's Angola Prison after the killing of a prison guard. Robert King spent 29 years in solitary before he was exonerated and released. Herman Wallace spent more than four decades in solitary before he was granted a new trial and released at age 71. Wallace died shortly thereafter from liver cancer. Albert Woodfox, who maintains his innocence, is still incarcerated.

"The circumstances of the incarceration of the so-called Angola Three clearly show that the use of solitary confinement in the US penitentiary system goes far beyond what is acceptable under international human rights law," said Mendez.

Mendez has asked to visit U.S. prisons in California, Colorado, New York, and Pennsylvania, but has not been able to schedule the visits, which must be cleared by the U.S. State Department as well as the state governors. Solitary Watch estimates that across the US there are around 80,000 prisoners being held in some form of solitary confinement on any given day. California in particular currently holds around 11,000 prisoners in solitary confinement, sometimes for decades (Watch a video here). Prisoners are held for around 22 hours per day in tiny cells with no sunlight. If their stay is prolonged, they may experience many adverse psychological effects, including high rates of self-mutilation and suicide [PDF].

Mendez this week briefed the UN General Assembly's Third Committee--it's main social, humanitarian, and cultural body--that solitary confinement should never be indefinite or prolonged for any person. He also emphasized that under no circumstances should minors, people with mental disability, or pregnant or breastfeeding women be kept in solitary confinement.

In addition to the U.S., Mendez plans to visit several countries to investigate their prison systems, including Mexico, Thailand, and Georgia, among others.

Media Resources: United Nations News Centre 10/7/13, 10/22/13; The Times-Picayune 10/4/13; Amnesty International News 10/10/13; Los Angeles Times 10/18/13; Solitary Watch; Fusion 10/20/13


© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.

 

 

Send to a Friend
Their
Your
Comments
(optional)


More Feminist News

10/21/2014 Afghanistan's New First Lady Advances Women's Issues - Just a few days after moving to the presidential palace, Afghanistan's new First Lady Rula Ghani said that she hopes to encourage greater respect for women. Rula Ghani already broke tradition by participating in her husband, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's, campaign for President. . . .
 
10/21/2014 Hulu Silences Rape Survivor Speaking Out Against Anti-Abortion Amendment 67 in Colorado - Hulu, an online, ad-supported streaming service, has refused to run an advertisement from the "No on 67" campaign in Colorado, citing the company's policy regarding "controversial" political positions on issues like abortion. In a letter to the CEO of Hulu, dated October 10, the Vote No on 67 Campaign, which is supported by the Feminist Majority Foundation, asked the company to reconsider its unwillingness to air a 35-second spot featuring a rape survivor's testimony about the far-reaching impact of Colorado's proposed Amendment 67. . . .
 
10/21/2014 Obama Administration Issues New Rule to Strengthen Response to Campus Sexual Violence - The Obama Administration announced a new rule last week to more effectively address sexual violence on college campuses by increasing transparency around campus disciplinary proceedings involving sexual violence and establishing rights for survivors within those proceedings. The new rule, announced by the Department of Education, implements changes to the Clery Act, which requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid in the United States to publicly report crime information. . . .