James Averhart, Chief Warrant Officer IV, who as commander of the Quantico brig determined conditions of confinement, kept Pvt. Bradley Manning naked for 7 days, and in solitary confinement despite recomendations from doctors to release him He insists that the regulation gives him to authority to decide whether to relax confinement standards–even though the regulation says a prisoner “shall” be released if the medicos say so.
Averhart argued that the word “shall” did not introduce a specific timeline for ending the confinement. “[T]he order is vague – it does say ‘shall,’ it does not say ‘right now’ or ‘immediately,’ sir – it still gives me the opportunity to evaluate,” he said.
Leroy Peoples is suing the state of New York. He was left in solitary confinement for 780 days–for misbehaving: no violence, no security threat. The New York Civil Liberties is helping with the suit:
I’m not sure how often in Texas politics that we’ve had this confluence: Sen. Whitmire and Lance Lowry, president of Texas chapter of the union with prison staff, agree that we need to close 2 more prisons. Doing so will help ensure the safety and security of not only inmates but the guards. Texas prison staffing is down 2700 officers this year.
Two major journalistic inquiries into the exorbitant prison phone rates has uncovered that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has sat on the problem for 3500 days. That’s some sitting, because a judge sent them the problem to resolve.
It’s about stealing from the poor again; telephone companies are charging so much for inmate phone calls that even the FCC is noticing. No, really. And the New Yourk Times is reporting the outrage. I suppose a $17 phone call that lasts under 15 minutes depletes a commissary account pretty fast.
As a society, we have a moral obligation to safeguard the members of our society by maintaining a system that separates the worst among us so that other citizens are not injured; we also have a moral obligation not to injure those separated, not to reduce them to non-humans. How we balance these obligations defines us as a society, as a nation. When international human rights groups point to our prison system as ‘barbaric,’ we need to examine our laws, our oversight of the system. And we have to act on what we learn.
The Pretrial Justice Institute has just released new statistics on the people we are keeping in our tax-funded jails; 61% are sitting there, waiting for a day in court. And while they sit, they grow tired and discouraged. So they are more likely to accept guilty pleas and spent unnecessary time in our jails and tax-funded prisons. See the original report at
Detained immigrants have even fewer rights then U.S. inmates in jails and prisons. Detension centers are supposed to non-punitive administrative holding centers for individuals undergoing immigration proceedings. The reality, though, is harsher than that. Much harsher. Detention Watch Netwrk just released a report citing 10 facilites with “sexual assault, substandard medical care, lack of due process and abysmal living conditions.” Not surprisingly, Arizona’s Pinal County jail is one of the 10.
The campaign to fund the graphic novel Prison Grievances into prison libraries is almost over. We’ve collected over $7000 and will be able to send books into more than 1500 prisons. If you can help in these last two days, go for it! And many thanks to all who have already given or sent positive wishes.
California has yet another problem, this one a lawsuit filed by Berkeley’s Disability Rights Advocates, on behalf of inmates in the Santa Rita units. What if you require a wheelchair, but the bathroom stalls are too narrow for one? What if you need help standing, but showers have to grab bars? Apparently, you urinate on yourself at times, and hope a sympathetic guard will help you shower.