Tag Archives | Prisoners

Guantanamo-Style Force Feeding Occurs In U.S. Prisons Every Day

force feedingVia Common Dreams, Ann Neumann on barbaric force feeding occurring onshore and offshore against prisoners who see hunger striking as their last available method of protest:

I know a hunger-striking prisoner who hasn’t eaten solid food in more than five years. He is being force-fed by the medical staff where he’s incarcerated. Starving himself, he told me last year, is the only way he has to exercise his first amendment rights and to protest his conviction.

The fact that force feedings are being discussed in the context of Guantánamo obscures the routine use of feeding tubes in American prisons. Other recent feeding tube cases have taken place in Washington state, Utah, Illinois and Wisconsin. No sweeping study of force-feeding has been done, so statistics on usage don’t exist. Only three states have laws against force-feeding prisoners: Florida, Georgia and California, where a hunger strike in 2011 at a facility in Pelican Bay effectively caused a court examination of prison conditions.

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Desperate Letter Describing Chinese Forced Labor Camp Found Inside Halloween Decorations Kit

Imagine if we understood where everything we have came from. Via Oregonian:

The letter came in a box of Halloween decorations purchased at Kmart, a $29.99 graveyard kit. On a Sunday afternoon in October, Julia Keith intended to decorate her home for her daughter’s fifth birthday, days before Halloween. She ripped open the box and threw aside the cellophane. That’s when Keith found it. Scribbled onto paper and folded into eighths, the letter was tucked between two Styrofoam headstones.

“Sir: If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under the persicution of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever.”

“People who work here have to work 15 hours a day without Saturday, Sunday break and any holidays. Otherwise, they will suffer torturement, beat and rude remark. Nearly no payment (10 yuan/1 month).”

“People who work here, suffer punishment 1-3 years averagely, but without Court Sentence (unlaw punishment).

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The Art Of Guantanamo Bay Prisoners

Curious as to what sort of art one makes when experiencing sensory deprivation halfway around the world? Since the beginning of the Obama presidency, inmates at Guantanamo Bay have been given art classes as a reward for good behavior. The BBC has a sampling of their works, many of which touch on themes of isolation or fantasies of home:

Although the prisoners can’t see the sea from the jail — which is located just a few meters away from the coast — nor the Caribbean vegetation that surrounds Guantanamo, many of their works depict islands with palm trees. Others recall their villages or meals reminiscent of home.

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ACLU Pushes For Porn In Prisons

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Photo: Olivier T (CC)

Is the restriction of pornography to inmates because of the lack of literary diversity offered in prisons or because of a possible porn/violence connection? ABC reports:

The American Civil Liberties Union is pushing for porn at a detention center in Moncks Corner, South Carolina.

The move came after reports surfaced that the facility only allowed inmates to read the Bible. But prison officials said that isn’t true and inmates have a wide variety of reading material at their disposal.

The ACLU said it wants prisoners to be able to read and view pornography. Lawyers for the jail said that just won’t happen.

“If they don’t like the wording in some of our policies, we’ll be happy to try and create better wording for them. But, there are certain issues that we’re just not going to be able to bend on,” said Sandra J. Senn, an attorney for the Hill-Finklea Detention Center in Berkeley County.

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Justices Ordered California To Reduce Amount Of Prisoners By 30,000

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A Block in Alcatraz. Photo: Nonie

What do we do when prisons become overcrowded? According the new Supreme Court ruling (for California), we can release a few thousand early, transfer them to another state (make it some other place’s problem) or build bigger prisons. At no point was there any suggestion about how to reduce the amount of people sent to prisons (violent vs nonviolent offenses, helping crime-rich communities, etc.). The rule was a decision for immediate action of reducing prisoners in hope to better their standard of living. The New York Time reports:

Conditions in California’s overcrowded prisons are so bad that they violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday, ordering the state to reduce its prison population by more than 30,000 inmates.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in a 5-to-4 decision that broke along ideological lines, described a prison system that failed to deliver minimal care to prisoners with serious medical and mental health problems and produced “needless suffering and death.”

Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel A.

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Venezuelan Inmates Take 22 Hostages Including Prison Director

Miranda State, Venezuela. Photo: Wilfredo R. Rodríguez H.(CC)

Miranda State, Venezuela. Photo: Wilfredo R. Rodríguez H.(CC)

In an effort to bring attention to the outbreak of tuberculosis in El Rodeo II prison, inmates are holding officials hostage. Prisoners are hoping such actions are a loud enough shout for help to have medical teams sent in to examine them. BBC reports:

Inmates at a jail in Venezuela have taken the prison director and 21 other officials hostage in an effort to draw attention to an alleged tuberculosis outbreak.

The prisoners at El Rodeo II prison in Guatire in Miranda state are demanding a medical team be sent into the jail to deal with the alleged outbreak.

The government denies there is a tuberculosis outbreak.

Officials say they will not negotiate until the inmates release the hostages.

Deputy Interior Minister Edwin Rojas said holding the officials hostage was “not the most adequate way [for the inmates] to proceed to make their grievances known”.

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Army Recruits Prisoners To Make Body Armor

Spc. Guy Mellor, US Army National Guard, tries on his helmet for the perfect fit.

Spc. Guy Mellor tries on his helmet for the perfect fit.

Another deal for Unicor. Via Wired News:

Building parts for Patriot missile systems was just a warm-up, apparently, for a government-owned company that relies on federal inmates making as little as 23 cents an hour. On Wednesday, the U.S. Army announced that it handed Federal Prison Industries a no-bid, nearly $20 million contract to build body armor.

It’s the latest in a decades-long string of military deals for FPI, also known as Unicor.

Over the years, the company has supplied parts for F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, the Cobra attack helicopter, and the iconic Patriot interceptor system. (More about that in a second.)

But this deal is particularly odd, because FPI’s track record with protective equipment is, to put it generously, uneven. In May of last year, the Army recalled 44,000 FPI-made protective helmets after they failed ballistic testing.

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Cellphones Gain Population In Prisons,Though Banned

Photo: United States Department of Homeland Security employee confiscating a cellphone during a pat-down inspection

Photo: United States Department of Homeland Security employee confiscating a cellphone during a pat-down inspection

What do prisoners do for fun? Play games on Facebook, text their friends, and organize strikes via their smartphones. Though prisoners are locked up and cut-off from the outside population, they are finding ways to become and remain part of the digital society. The New York Times reports:

A counterfeiter at a Georgia state prison ticks off the remaining days of his three-year sentence on his Facebook page. He has 91 digital “friends.” Like many of his fellow inmates, he plays the online games FarmVille and Street Wars.

He does it all on a Samsung smartphone, which he says he bought from a guard. And he used the same phone to help organize a short strike among inmates at several Georgia prisons last month.

Technology is changing life inside prisons across the country at the same rapid-fire pace it is changing life outside.

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