Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mother's Day Special: "Justice Mamas"

For Mother's Day this year, the ACLU is working on awareness for mothers of incarcerated children with a special petition to ban solitary confinement. Solitary confinement is the practice of leaving people in single person cells for twenty-two to twenty-four hours per day. Most time spent in solitary confinement is spent without the use of telephone, television, reduced or no natural light, restriction or denial of reading material, television, radios and other property; severe limits on visitation; and the inability to participate in group activities. Often a person is solitary is not permitted visitation and when visitation is permitted, it is behind a barrier or the incarcerated person will have to attend the visit shackled. The ACLU notes that the practice of solitary confinement in US prisons is not limited to dangerous or violent prisoners. According to an information sheet that accompanies the petition:
Forty‐four states and the federal government have supermax prisons, housing at least 25,000 people nationwide. Using data from a census of state and federal prisoners conducted by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, researchers estimate that over 80,000 prisoners are held in “restricted housing,” including prisoners held in administrative segregation, disciplinary segregation and protective custody – all forms of housing involving substantial social isolation. The majority of individuals housed in isolated confinement are severely mentally ill or cognitively disabled. Low‐risk “nuisance prisoners” are also housed in solitary because they have broken minor rules or filed grievances or lawsuits. Children held in adult prisons are also held in solitary “for their own safety.” If the use of solitary confinement were restricted solely to the dangerous and the predatory, most supermax prisons would stand virtually empty.

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