Tag Archives | Prison

Jail Solidarity, Part Three

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“As his face faded from the television screen, the light in my eyes dimmed.”

Natalie Solidarity writes at Diatribe Media:

My gentle friend was returned to state custody even as I willed otherwise. Three days later, my Occupy Chicago brothers and I sat on cold stone benches, watching families visit their fathers for the hallmark holiday. We drove together to visit our comrade together because that’s what families do. It was a hot Sunday, and I had finally entered the waiting area after being reminded my tank top was not welcome and I had to cover my body in a tee-shirt. At our comrade’s cellblock division, the guards did not perform the vigorous pat-down we found in other sections, even though they’re all part of the same Cook County system. In this division, number 6, my brothers and I simply dumped our nearly-empty pockets into bins and walked through metal detectors.… Read the rest

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Jail Solidarity, Part Two: Until The Prison Walls Are Rubble

Natalie Solidarity writes at Diatribe Media:

In the depressing afternoon of June 14th, I watched the same tactics from prosecutors regarding freedoms of the remaining NATO5 “terrorists.” After dejectedly exiting 26th and California, my comrades and I drove across Chicago to support another prisoner. In a different courtroom with similar ridiculous charges levied against yet another gentle comrade whose only crime was daring to stand up to the bully state, I watched an Occupier stand in front of a judge. This time, instead of shackles, he entered the room with his right arm heavily bandaged and in a sling, and his body was in disrepair. The bruised, battered and shocked accounts from that horrible night of his brutal and unnecessarily forceful arrest at the Quebec Solidarité rally and Casserole march showed his arm was fine before incarceration. He’s being charged with a crime against police that he did not commit.

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To Live Your Life in Fear Is Worse Than Losing Your Freedom

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Ai Weiwei writing in the Guardian:

A year ago tomorrow, I was released from more than two months of secret detention. Police told me today that they have lifted my bail conditions. I am happy that the year is up, but also feel sorry about it. I have no sense of why I lost my freedom and if you don’t know how you lost something, how can you protect it?

“Wei” means “future” and also “uncertainty”, and the future really is unknown. They have said I cannot leave China because they are still investigating cases against me – for pornography, exchanging foreign currency and bigamy. It is very, very strange. I am not a criminal. They grabbed something from me because they have power.

The 81 days of detention were a nightmare. I am not unique: this has happened to many people, and is still happening.

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The American Geography Of Incarceration

We may peruse neighborhoods on Google Maps, read about suburban sprawl and new city developments, but millions of Americans exist in a different, ignored geography. Via the The Funambulist:

Prison Map is a project developed by Josh Begley, a graduate student at NYU. Let’s recall that 2.5 millions people are living in prison in this country. Such a project illustrates therefore a sort of hidden urbanism in which 0.8% of the American population live for a given time.

They illustrate a geography of exclusion [and] often ironically appear similar to European palaces with well-ordered classical plans.

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What Is It Like Spending 40 Years In Solitary Confinement?

Confinement

Photo: Elians (CC)

Imagine having to go through this. Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox have lived 40 straight years in windowless boxes in Louisiana’s worst jail, as political prisoners. Via the Guardian:

They’ve spent 23 hours of each day in the last 40 years in a 9ft-by-6ft cell. Now, human rights groups intensify calls for their release.

First imprisoned [for robbery] in 1967, Herman Wallace came together with Albert Woodfox and a third man, Robert King, to form a Black Panther chapter inside the prison, hoping to organize African American inmates against the brutal treatment they endured. Angola was reputed to be the worst jail in America, whose 5,000 inmates were still racially segregated and where violence and sexual slavery were rampant.

Then on April 17, 1972, a prison guard was murdered during in one of the wings. The Angola 3 were immediately accused of the murder, and placed that same day in solitary.

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Is Imprisonment By Robot Jailers Coming Soon?

With jails fuller than ever and government budgets being slashed, is the future of prisoner management the robo-correctional officer? Via CBS News:
The world’s first corrections service robot allows for efficient prisoner management and takes on a number of simple tasks for guards while closing the communication gap between prisoners and their guards. The prisoners are protected from situations such as suicide, arson and assault. Furthermore, it recognizes repeated behaviors of prisoners, and detects anomalies in advance, protecting incidents from happening in the first place.
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U.S. Supreme Court Legalizes Strip Search For Any Offense

Anthony Kennedy (2009, cropped)Make sure you don’t jaywalk, ride a bike without a bell, protest anything, or otherwise upset a police officer, because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that you can be forced to strip naked for a visual search no matter how trivial your alleged offense. NPR reports:

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that jailers may subject people arrested for minor offenses to invasive strip searches, siding with security needs over privacy rights.

By a 5-4 vote, the court ruled against a New Jersey man who complained that strip searches in two county jails violated his civil rights.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion for the court’s conservative justices that when people are going to be put into the general jail population, “courts must defer to the judgment of correctional officials unless the record contains substantial evidence showing their policies are an unnecessary or unjustified response to problems of jail security.”

In a dissenting opinion joined by the court’s liberals, Justice Stephen Breyer said strip searches improperly “subject those arrested for minor offenses to serious invasions of their personal privacy.” Breyer said jailers ought to have a reasonable suspicion someone may be hiding something before conducting a strip search.

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Why Are So Many Americans In Prison?

Via Al Jazeera English:
The US has the highest prison population in the world - some of whom  have been subjected to lengthy sentences for relatively minor crimes.  And that population has surged over the past three decades. Although there has been a slight reduction in the past year, more  than two million people are either incarcerated in prison or in jail  awaiting trial. The US has the highest rate of imprisonment in  the world, with 743 people incarcerated for every 100,000 Americans. No  other nation even comes close to these figures. One explanation for the boom in the prison population is the mandatory sentencing imposed for drug offences and the "tough on crime" attitude that has prevailed since the 1980s. But it is the length of sentences that truly distinguishes US prison policy. Some prisoners are locked up for life - literally - and many receive harsh sentences for non-violent crime...
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Inmate Secretly Adds Pig To State Decal On Vermont Police Cruisers

From Burlington Free Press:
How did an image of a pig — the infamous ’60s-era epithet by protesters for police officers — wind up on a decal used on as many as 30 Vermont State Police cruisers? State officials Thursday pointed to the failure of the quality assurance office within the Vermont Correctional Industries Print Shop in St. Albans to detect a prisoner-artist’s addition made four years ago to the traditional state police logo. A spot on the shoulder of the cow in the state emblem was modified into a pig... vermont police pig
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Bastoy: Norway’s Island Of Freedom For Prisoners

bastoey-prision_noruegaDer Spiegel takes a look at the resort-like island that houses some of Norway’s most hardened convicts — they are given a wide berth to do as they please, but must complete their work and behave civilly, or risk being shipped back to regular prison. Is this how criminal rehabilitation could be done here?

No bars. No walls. No armed guards. The prison island of Bastøy in Norway is filled with some of the country’s most hardened criminals. Yet it emphasizes self-control instead of the strictly regulated regimens common in most prisons. For some inmates, it is more than they can handle.

The warden is a man who deals in freedom. He is also a visionary. He wants the men here to live as if they were living in a village, to grow potatoes and compost their garbage, and he wants the guards and the prisoners to respect each other. What he doesn’t want is a camera in the supermarket.

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