No Place For Children

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Posted in Activism, Confined Kids, Insanity, Mental Health, Public Safety, Sensory Deprivation, SHU, Super-Max, Surviving Solitary, Torture, Torture for $$$ | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Report Shows Even More Evidence Of The Misuse Of Solitary Confinement

WASHINGTON — A report released this week by the Vera Institute of Justice, a nonpartisan nonprofit based in New York, provides yet more evidence of the misuse of solitary confinement. The researchers add to a growing body of evidence that the practice of housing inmates in stark, small cells for, on average, 23 hours a day is not just widespread but being applied to non-violent inmates. They found that inmates can be put in solitary, or segregation, for just about any infraction.

“Disruptive behavior — such as talking back, being out of place, failure to obey an order, failing to report to work or school, or refusing to change housing units or cells — frequently lands incarcerated people in disciplinary segregation,” according to the report.

The unlucky inmates, the report states, are sometimes referred to as “nuisance prisoners.” In some facilities, these prisoners can be the majority of those in solitary. The researchers highlight three states’ confinement data as examples:

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Link to full article here

Posted in Abuse, Confined Kids, Control Unit, Mental Health, Private Prisons, Sensory Deprivation, Solitary Confinement, Solitary Watch, Surviving Solitary, Torture, Torture for $$$, Uncategorized

Contra Costa County to End Solitary Confinement for Juveniles

LA Times–  “In preliminary legal settlements announced Tuesday, Contra Costa County’s probation department has agreed to end the practice of solitary confinement for youths in juvenile hall, while the county’s office of education will guarantee appropriate services for all youths with disabilities.

The coordinated settlements come in the wake of increased national focus on the damaging nature of solitary confinement for young people — a practice that former Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. had pressed to end.

The resolution was announced by Berkeley-based Disability Rights Advocates and Los Angeles-based Public Counsel — the two nonprofit legal organizations that filed suit in 2013 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on behalf of Contra Costa County youth.

The U.S. Departments of Justice and Education last year filed statements of interest in the case, saying their authority and expertise should be considered.

The suit alleged that youths with psychiatric and developmental disabilities were routinely locked in narrow cells for up to 23 hours per day and deprived of education, including special education guaranteed to them under federal law.

“In Contra Costa County, the draconian practice of solitary confinement will come to an end and the focus will be, as it should, on education and rehabilitation,” Mary-Lee Smith, managing attorney at Disability Rights Advocates, said in a statement. “Our hope is that other facilities across the nation will follow suit.” Full Article on LA Times

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Thousands of American Prisoners Spend 23 Hours a Day in Solitary Confinement

“If you’re seriously mentally ill and placed in solitary confinement, chances are you’re going to be in there for a long time. Chances are you’re not going to get quality care, and chances are you’re not going to get better. In fact, you’re going to get worse. Why do we consider this rehabilitation? What purpose are we serving? We need to make a decision as to how we’re going to treat prisoners and how we want them to come out when it’s time for them to be released. If we take a population that is sick to begin with, then throw them in a system not equipped to take care of them, they are going to get sicker. And they’re going to die.”

Excerpts, John Hokins Magazine/Spring 2015 – “Gabriel Eber (a senior staff counsel with the ACLU’s National Prison Project) has no shortage of macabre tales of life inside the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, a notoriously violent and chaotic men’s prison on the outskirts of Meridian. Assaults (staff on inmate, inmate on inmate) are frequent. According to accounts, cells are infested with rats that crawl over prisoners; some inmates tie leashes to the rodents and sell them to the mentally ill as pets. Men are kept in small, unsanitary isolation cells with scant human attention for months and years. Self-mutilation and suicide attempts are not uncommon.

But words alone, Eber says, can’t bringhome the facility’s gruesome conditions. “I can show you a video of what I’m talking about, and I have some pictures,” says Eber, dressed in a loose-fitting dark suit as he sits in his cramped Washington office at the American Civil Liberties Union. He clicks open a file to show footage shot by the private corporation that now manages the prison. Two corrections officers stand outside a cell in one of the EMCF’s isolation units. (One such unit is known to inmates as the “dead zone” or “dead man’s zone.”) The officers are here for an unknown reason, perhaps to respond to a medical emergency, but if so, Eber says, they are already too late. One hears garbled shouts from other unit inmates, intermixed with a rhythmic, buzzing cacophony of machinery. The man inside, Eber says, suffers from asthma, which has likely worsened due to pepper spray in the air. Corrections officers routinely spray through a cell door’s tray slot if the inmate refuses to close it. Inmates often leave the slots open as a cry for help to receive medical attention, food, or a shower, and such defiant acts are common. Some inmates flood their cells by cramming whatever they can into a toilet, or use damaged electrical sockets to set fire to their mattresses. Some cut themselves.

Eventually the door opens, revealing a tall, thin 40-year-old African-American man, hunched over with one hand on a wall splattered with blood…”


sentiment that Eber and others in the same fight sometimes hear is: Why should we care about the health and well-being of inmates? These are convicted criminals. Some are serial rapists, murderers. They sell drugs to our children. They concoct fraud to steal money from our grandparents. Prison should be rough. That’s what deters people from breaking the law, right?

Eber argues that we all should care what goes on inside prison walls. The system, he says, is built on a rehabilitation model, not a torture model. He tells people to ask themselves this: What kind of person do you want leaving prison? Someone who is healthy and rehabilitated? Or someone so damaged as to likely be a burden to society? The issue, he says, is clear and serious. In far too many U.S. prison systems, inmates who have serious medical needs are either ignored or get substandard care. The result, he says, can lead to unnecessary amputations, the spread of disease, suicides, and the exacerbation of pre-existing psychiatric disorders. Even basic care for treatable conditions, like diabetes, can be a challenge in prison. “We hear it all,” he says. “It’s heartbreaking. The system is sick.”…

…”A study published in 2013 in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law examined administrative segregation involving Colorado prison inmates with and without mental illness. In the longitudinal study, researchers examined whether inmates in segregation showed greater psychological deterioration over time compared to those nonsegregated. The subjects, male inmates in both administrative segregation and the general population, completed a brief symptom inventory at regular intervals for one year. Results showed some differentiation between groups at the outset and small but statistically significant positive change over time across all groups. The study’s findings were inconsistent with the hypothesis that inmates, with or without mental illness, experience significant psychological decline in solitary confinement. This study, however, has since been attacked on methodological grounds. Some critics say it relied too heavily on self-reports by inmates, with only marginal use of records and professional assessments, in circumstances where prisoners have disincentives to report psychiatric symptoms. Reports of psychiatric emergencies and medication changes were apparently not considered and, according to some critics, would have dramatically changed results.”

Full Article on John Hopkins Magazine

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Pregnant Woman Jailed, Forced To Give Birth In Solitary Confinement, Baby Dies In Cell

By 5 a.m. on June 12, a detention officer walking by saw that her cries were real, and that she was in fact in labor. He helped her deliver the baby, but because no help had come sooner, the umbilical cord had been wrapped around its neck.

CPR was performed on the baby but it was too late…

Counter Current News/ May 26, 2014– “Could you imagine being kept in solitary confinement in an isolated jail cell? As bad as that might be, a Texas woman was forced to endure not only that, but also giving birth alone in her solitary jail cell. To make matters worse, this resulted in the death of her newborn baby.

Nicole Guerrero is now suing the police. According to a federal lawsuit she filed, Nicole Guerrero explains that “Wichita County denied [her] access to reasonable medical care … ignored her obvious signs of labor and constant requests for medical assistance, failed to conduct a physical examination … when she began to display obvious signs of labor, left [her] unattended in a solitary cell while she was obviously in labor, failed to transport [her] to the hospital for safe delivery, which ultimately caused [her] to deliver her baby alone in the solitary cell, and resulted in [her] suffering severe and likely permanent, physical and psychological injuries.”

Full Story on Counter Current News

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Six positive developments for the US criminal justice system in 2014

Originally posted on Quartz:

There’s no question the American criminal justice system is in terrible shape, and the problems plaguing it are exacerbated as time goes by. In 2014, the US still imprisons more people than any other country, incarcerating black men at disproportionately high rates. Police killings in Ferguson and New York and incidents of police brutality dominated the news this year, and demonstrated that law enforcement is in need of overarching reform.

But 2014 also saw a number of important, beneficial changes to the US the criminal justice system. Here are some standouts:

Solitary confinement reform

Up to 80,000 prisoners are held in some form of solitary confinement in the US. The practice has been described as torture and condemned by the United Nations as causing long-lasting harm to inmates’ mental health. In 2014, 10 states introduced measures to reduce the numbers of inmates—including the mentally ill—they hold in solitary confinement.


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Under Fire for Negligence, North Carolina Prisons Chief Seeks New Funding for Mental Health Treatment

Excerpts, Solitary Watch – “North Carolina corrections chief David Guice wants more than $20 million to improve the treatment of people with mental illness in the state’s prisons. His request comes on the heels of two recent reports showing neglect and abuse of prisoners with psychiatric disabilities in North Carolina, and the death in custody of one such individual, Michael Anthony Kerr. According to autopsy report findings released in September, Kerr died last March of dehydration after being held in solitary confinement for 35 days.

Guice heads up the state’s prison system as commissioner of the Department of Public Safety’s Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice. His request was made last Thursday at a meeting of the state’s Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety, held to discuss North Carolina’s treatment of prisoners suffering from mental illnesses.

At the meeting, Guice cited the difficulties in providing adequate care for 4,600 people – 12 percent of the total prison population – requiring mental health services. The prison system wants the state’s upcoming budget to include funding for more than 300 additional mental health care staff statewide, 64 more for Central Prison’s mental health unit, and 76 probation officers…”

“…One recent report, Solitary Confinement as Torture, published by the Human Rights Policy Seminar at the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Law, is based on research and interviews with prisoners and focuses on the treatment of incarcerated people suffering from mental disorders and the use of isolation.

The 216-page report denounces the use of solitary confinement as “torture,” and reach the “straightforward and simple” conclusion that “solitary confinement is ineffective at decreasing violence within prisons; it is ineffective at preserving public safety; it is ineffective at managing scarce monetary resources; and it violates the boundaries of human dignity and justice. Prison officials and the courts must find a way to end the practice without delay.”

The report also documents North Carolina’s failure to provide the rehabilitation opportunities essential to successful reentry into society—in large part due to the prison system’s inclination to place people in solitary for petty offenses and “almost a complete disregard of prisoners’ average mental health needs.” In fact, according to the study, as much as 10 percent of North Carolina’s prison population has been held in prolonged solitary confinement at any given time in recent years.

The UNC report  recommends specific “systemic reforms,” including decreasing prison populations, increasing efforts at rehabilitation, changing the “institutional culture” in prisons and ultimately abolishing the use of solitary confinement…”
Full Story Here on Solitary Watch

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Is Solitary Confinement a Form of Torture? Q&A with journalist James Ridgeway

“Obama says we don’t torture, but a lot of this is straight-up torture,” says journalism legend James Ridgeway. “We call Guantanamo and Afghanistan torture and we never look at our own stuff.”

Ridgeway is talking about the growing use – and abuse – of solitary confinement in American prisons. He estimates there are 80,000 prisoners currently in solitary, many whom are mentally ill and suicidal. One prisoner Ridgeway is following has been in solitary for 40 years and he notes that some lawmakers are proposing life sentences in solitary as a “humane” alternative to the death penalty. Ridgeway and associates report their findings at

Posted in Angola 3, Control Unit, History, Insanity, Mental Health, Sensory Deprivation, SHU, Solitary Confinement, Solitary Watch, Torture | Tagged , , , , , ,

Voices from Solitary: A Mouse and a Murderer

Solitary Watch – “William Blake is in solitary confinement at Elmira Correctional Facility in upstate New York. In 1987, while in county court on a drug charge, Blake, then 23, grabbed a gun from a sheriff’s deputy and, in a failed escape attempt, murdered one deputy and wounded another. He is now 50 years old, and is serving a sentence of 77 years to life. Blake is one of the few people in New York to be held in “administrative” rather than “disciplinary” segregation—meaning he’s considered a risk to prison safety and is in isolation more or less indefinitely, despite periodic pro forma reviews of his status. He is now in his 27th year of solitary confinement.

Billy Blake is a prolific reader and a gifted writer who has written for Solitary Watch before, notably a piece that went viral worldwide called “A Sentence Worse Than Death.” Here, he describes what happens when he bonds with another creature in his solitary cell. He welcomes mail at the following address: William Blake 87-A-5771, Elmira C.F., P.O. Box 500, Elmira, NY 14902-0500. –Savannah Crowley

“Pop! Pop-pop-pop! Pop-pop!” I heard the loud noise echoing through the solitary confinement unit at Shawangunk Correctional Facility in the spring of 1988. It sounded like somebody was slapping a sneaker onto the concrete floor of their cell.

I put down the book I was reading and went to my cell gate to call my neighbor, as it sounded like the noise might be coming from his cell. “Willie, is that you making all the racket?”

“Yeah. There’s a mouse in my cell, and he picked the wrong cell to try to steal some food from. I’m gonna kill his ass now,” the man locking next to me said. Willie had been my neighbor since I had arrived at Shawangunk’s Special Housing Unit (SHU) in July of the year before.

“Don’t kill him, bro, just chase him out of your house. He’s just trying to live like everyone else is,” I pleaded for the little rodent’s life.

“Fuck that! I’m gonna kill this sucker so he can’t come in here again. They ain’t feeding us good enough to be giving anything up to a damn mouse,” Willie said.

I heard a few more pops as Willie chased the tiny creature around his cell, swatting at it with his sneaker. All the sudden, as I stood at the bars looking toward Willie’s cell, I saw the mouse fly onto the company and stop a few from the wall opposite the cell fronts.

“Yeah! I got that motherfucker,” Willie loudly said, sounding happy about ridding the unit of one mouse. It would not make his food any safer, though, the little he would save from his trays during the day to eat come nighttime. Shawagunk’s box was loaded with mice, roaches too. I have never seen a prison that isn’t, and I’ve been in many. Killing one would make no difference.

The mouse didn’t move for several minutes as I watched it, so I at first thought it was dead. But then it moved and began to head down the company, right toward my cell. It was moving very slowly, though, nothing like a mouse usually does, furry little rockets on four feet that they normally are, shooting across open areas to move about along the walls. As it got closer and I could see it better in the dim light shining on the company, I saw that the mouse was dragging itself by its front legs only. Its back legs were stretched out behind it, looking useless and not moving at all.

The angle the mouse was taking would have put it just past my cell gate, so it probably was trying to make it to the door of the pipechase between my cell and my neighbor’s to the left–Willie’s cell was to my right. Mice run under the solid-steel doors of the pipechases all the time, and once in there are safe from any traffic there might be when guards are taking inmates out of their cells to shower, for recreation in the empty SHU yards, or to visits or call-outs to the prison hospital or elsewhere. That is probably where they make their homes, as those pipe chases are dark and are rarely opened. They could hide safely during the daytime and come out at night to search for food, as mice like to do, nocturnal things that they are. It looked to me like the injured mouse was heading to the safest place it knew, heading home to the pipechase…” Full Article on Solitary Watch

Posted in Control Unit, Insanity, New York, Sensory Deprivation, SHU | Tagged , , ,

Prison Soy Diet Lawsuit Updates

Information and updates on the statuses of the prisoner soy diet lawsuits in Illinois and Florida –


Judge Gives Green Light to Soy Lawsuit

A pdf. link that lists all of the actions taken in the lawsuit so far –

 Harris v. Brown, et al


Florida –

Florida prisoner’s lawsuit calls soy meals ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment

“Florida inmates or taxpayers wishing to participate in the lawsuit should contact the Weston A. Price Foundation at”



Posted in Florida, Illinois, Prison Diet, Soy, Weston-Price | Tagged , , , , ,

Thank you, 60,000 times, from Pamela Smart’s team of supporters

Originally posted on Pamela Smart:

We had nearly 60,000 page-views of in August, and many offers of support and help.  Thank you!

If you are new to this site, please read as much of it as you can.  If you would like to make contact with Pamela Smart, her family and her supporters, please contact Dr. Eleanor Pam through email.

We urge you to see the HBO documentary film, CAPTIVATED The Trials of Pamela Smart.  It does not advocate for guilt or innocence, but does examine the many irregularities of Pamela Smart’s trial, the role of the media in the trial verdict, and the unfairness of the sentencing.

And we urge you to sign the petition on, addressed to the New Hampshire governor and executive council, seeking a sentence reduction, commutation, or parole for Pamela Smart.

If you have other questions about this site you may address them to our webmaster.

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Prison guards not trained for mental problems: union

Originally posted on Global News:

SASKATOON – The president of the union that represents Canadian prison guards says they are not being properly trained to deal with inmates who have mental health issues.

Kevin Grabowsky of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers says it’s a growing problem, pointing to the case of 43-year-old Marlene Carter.

She was recently sentenced to an additional two years at the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon for 17 charges from assaults to peace officers and medical officials.

READ MORE: Court declares mentally ill female prisoner not a dangerous offender

Court was told that Carter spends 23 hours a day in solitary confinement strapped to a bed because otherwise she repeatedly bangs her head against the walls of her cell at a rate that can reach 150 times in a couple of minutes.

Officials with the Elizabeth Fry Society, a prisoner advocacy group, say Carter is severely mentally ill and needs…

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Extreme Sentencing Laws Are Not Smart

Originally posted on 4JusticeNow:

ACLU – Extreme sentencing laws have pushed the number of people in American jails and prisons to over 2.3 million — with more than half imprisoned for nonviolent crimes. These unnecessarily long sentences have led to bloated, overcrowded prisons and wasted billions of taxpayer dollars that could be better invested in our communities. 

Right now, we have a unique opportunity to rein in mass incarceration for people in the federal system. Congress members on both sides of the aisle have joined together in support of the Smarter Sentencing Act — a bill that could roll back some extreme federal mandatory minimum sentences.

If thousands of us put pressure on our congress members, we can reduce draconian sentencing laws that tear apart families.

Take action now: ask Congress to roll back federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws by scheduling and passing the Smarter Sentencing Act – before they leave for home…

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Huge Jail Serves as Nation’s Largest Mental Health Care Provider

Originally posted on Social Action:

Chicago’s Cook County Jail holds around 10,000 inmates, making it the largest jail in the United States. It’s also the nation’s largest mental health care provider, with an estimated 30 percent of inmates there diagnosed with a mental health disorder. RT Correspondent Liz Wahl takes you inside the jail that struggles to care for psychiatric patients amid overcrowding and limited resources.

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Central Park Five” – Wrongful Conviction: Defendant Speaks Out

Originally posted on Social Action:

Richard French Live’s Dominic Carter speaks with Raymond Santana, one of the “Central Park Five” about his experience with the wrongful conviction he suffered.

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Get 16-Year-Old Trans Girl “Jane Doe” Out Of Prison!

Originally posted on 4JusticeNow: – “A 16-year-old transgender girl in Connecticut has been incarcerated in an adult men’s prison for nearly a month — and she still hasn’t been charged or convicted of a single crime.

“Jane Doe” was living in a home for traumatized youth when authorities claim she attacked a staffer. But no criminal charges are even pending against her.

Instead, the teen has suffered in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT for weeks without treatment or educational training  — and instead of letting her go, the Department of Correction wants to send her to a men’s prison where she’ll be at high risk of abuse and sexual assault!

Please, join us in calling on Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy to release “Jane Doe” from prison and return her to state custody, placing her in a juvenile facility with kids of her gender if the state still plans to press charges!”


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Baby Dies in Jail After Mother Was Forced to Give Birth in Solitary With No Help: Lawsuit

Free Thought Project – “The plaintiff, Nicole Guerrero alleges in legal documents that:

“Wichita County denied (her) access to reasonable medical care … ignored her obvious signs of labor and constant requests for medical assistance, failed to conduct a physical examination … when she began to display obvious signs of labor, left (her) unattended in a solitary cell while she was obviously in labor, failed to transport (her) to the hospital for safe delivery, which ultimately caused (her) to deliver her baby alone in the solitary cell, and resulted in (her) suffering severe and likely permanent, physical and psychological injuries.”

Wichita County is not commenting on the case.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court.

After being arrested on charges of drug possession on June 2, 2012, she was held in Wichita County jail. According to the lawsuit, after visiting her doctor for an infection on June 11, while still in custody, Guerrero says her doctor told her she was 8½ months pregnant.

Read more at Free Thought Project 

Posted in Abuse, Sensory Deprivation, Solitary Confinement, Surviving Solitary, Women Behind Bars

Colorado Prison Director To Reform Solitary Confinement After Enduring It Himself

First thing you notice is that it’s anything but quiet. You’re immersed in a drone of garbled noise – other inmates’ blaring TVs, distant conversations, shouted arguments,” he wrote. “I couldn’t make any sense of it, and was left feeling twitchy and paranoid. I kept waiting for the lights to turn off, to signal the end of the day. But the lights did not go off. I began to count the small holes carved in the walls. Tiny grooves made by inmates who’d chipped away at the cell as the cell chipped away at them.”

The Free Thought Project- “Colorado prison inmates who have spent time in solitary confinement should prepare to see their conditions change after the new executive director of the state’s department of corrections said spending 20 hours in isolation has inspired him to reform it.

Rick Raemisch announced his intentions in an editorial for the New York Times, using the space to remind the public that prisoners who have committed even minor infractions in prison can often spend nearly two years in what is known as the solitary housing unit (SHU), or administrative segregation (ad-seg). 

I would spend a total of 20 hours in that cell,” he wrote. “Which, compared to the typical stay, is practically a blink. On average, inmates who are sent to solitary spend an average of 23 months there. Some spend 20 years.”

As reformers have tried to call attention to how inmates are punished behind bars, they have highlighted the numerous academic papers and medical studies that have found solitary confinement to be one of the most damaging mental experiences a person can endure. That seriousness is further exacerbated by the number of convicts who suffer from mental illness before they are ever placed in ad-seg.

Raemisch described how he fully immersed himself, writing of how that experience can shift a person’s mentality.

First thing you notice is that it’s anything but quiet. You’re immersed in a drone of garbled noise – other inmates’ blaring TVs, distant conversations, shouted arguments,” he wrote. “I couldn’t make any sense of it, and was left feeling twitchy and paranoid. I kept waiting for the lights to turn off, to signal the end of the day. But the lights did not go off. I began to count the small holes carved in the walls. Tiny grooves made by inmates who’d chipped away at the cell as the cell chipped away at them.”

The impact that leaves on a person not only wears on them through their time behind bars, Raemisch explained, but also when they re-enter society.” Read More At The Free Thought Project-

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Solitary Confinement May Dramatically Alter Brain Shape In Just Dayz, Neuroscientist Sayz

Originally posted on Moorbey'z Blog:

By Nicole Flatow

Solitary Confinement May Dramatically Alter Brain Shape In Just Days, Neuroscientist Says

A solitary cell at Angola prison in the early 1970s.A solitary cell at Angola prison in the early 1970s.

CREDIT: In The Land Of The Free

Solitary confinement has been called a “living death,” cruel and unusual, and torture. Studies of the prison practice of placing inmates in a solitary, often concrete windowless cell for 23 hours a day with almost no human contact, have found that the psychological impact is dramatic after just a few days.

A University of Michigan neuroscientist suggested Friday that the physical impact on the brain could be just as significant if not moreso, and could “dramatically change the brain” in just a matter of days. Speaking on a panel about solitary confinement, neuroscientist Huda Akil said inaccess to inmates has prevented much formal study on brain changes while held in confinement…

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Deputy Assaults Shackled Prisoner , Judge Files Complaint , DA’s Office Declines Prosecution

Originally posted on YouViewed/Editorial:

Denver Deputy Slams Shackled Inmate Into Courtroom Wall

” A Denver sheriff’s deputy is appealing a 30-day suspension he was given after he slammed a handcuffed inmate into a wall during a hearing before a judge in 2012. Anthony Waller was handcuffed when he appeared before a judge to face domestic violence charges on Sept. 11, 2012.

  The hearing was recorded by surveillance cameras and posted online by the Colorado Independent. In the video, Waller can be heard asking the judge, “The investigation should come first and then the arrest?” He then looks back and that’s when Deputy Brad Lovingier grabbed Waller by the waist and slammed him head first into a wall.”

   The Denver prosecutor’s office declines prosecution of a filmed assault and the authorities wonder why they are losing public support ? The blue wall includes the brown shoe and that reveals that their mentality is “the public be…

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US prison to charge inmates for meals

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