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April 2, 2011

"Isolation Units within U.S. Prisons: A Panel Discussion"

The title of this post is the name of an event sponsored by the Center for Constitutional Rights taking place in San Francisco early next week.  The details can be found in a flier available for download below, and here is how the event is being described:

A diverse group of leading experts will discuss the ramifications of solitary confinement and experimental isolation units in the prison system.  Panelists will also examine critical issues affecting theprison population, including prisoners’ rights, racial and religious profiling, and government misconduct.

 Download Flier SF April 2011 Event Isolation in the US Prison System

April 2, 2011 at 10:23 AM | Permalink


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"A diverse group of leading experts will discuss..."

Diverse in what sense? In representing anything other than the convicts' point of view?

Not hardly. "Diversity" is all the thing in liberal circles these days, except for viewpoint diversity -- you know, like having a dissenting voice. At that point, "diversity" goes out the window, and every speaker is there to toe the party line.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 2, 2011 3:50:06 PM

"Experimental Isolation Units?" Oh, that must be CCR's epithet for the BOP's Communication Management Units. CCR's lawsuit was dismissed as to First, Fifth, and 8th Amedment claims, (by D.D.C., no less) and is being allowed to move forward only on shaky claims of retaliation against 2 inmates there, and a general procedural due process issue. Of course, you can rile up so many more people, get more press coverage, and raise more funds by falsely referring to them as "experiments in social isolation."

Posted by: anon | Apr 2, 2011 4:09:13 PM

CMU's are an insane BOP program where they lock prisoners that they deem dangerous to communicate with the outside in a special place where they get 1 letter per week, 1 phone call per week and 1 visit per month (non-contact through glass). It was Bush proposal for terrorist suspects, but is administered by the BOP that has no due process requirement before locking up someone in one of them.
COMPELETE insanity!

Posted by: fixnrlaws | Apr 3, 2011 3:00:04 PM

Experimental isolation? What is the control?

Posted by: John Neff | Apr 3, 2011 6:38:26 PM

Fixn, on the facts relating to conditions of confinement and communication, you are simply absolutely wrong.

Posted by: anon | Apr 4, 2011 6:57:19 PM

There are several different sorts of segregation systems in use by the BOP - not to mention the various DOCs. They, all of them, deserve review on a number of grounds. Having been subjected to several different styles of "Seg." and knowing about anecdotally as well as from study of the subject, I wonder how many, if any of the "diverse group" have ever been in "Seg"...or persons responding to this post by Prof. Berman. "Seg" can and does range from mild to horrific...depends. I shall look forward to the results of the conference. Hopefully it won't be a "sex manual written by virgins" sort of thing.

Posted by: Tim Rudisill | Apr 5, 2011 11:28:49 AM

The panel included speakers who were academics on the history of supermaxes, clinical psychiatrist who has extensively studied the health effects of such confinement, a leader of of a community group who has seen the impact of this confinement on her constituents, and a former prisoner who spent 11 months in solitary right before being released into the street. The term diversity obviously can be applied to many different factors; these speakers came from a variety of different disciplines, very different professions in practice and different exposure and experiences on this issue.

Posted by: anon | Apr 6, 2011 11:06:48 AM

Anon, while I am sure that this group meant well and attempted to address the issues as best they might - and I do applaud their efforts - forgive me if I am somewhat hesitant to endorse them. One individual with some experience of one sort of seg? Hardly a sufficient experiential base. Wouldn't you agree? There are too many sorts of seg and too many ways it may be utilized to be satisfied with the "diverseness" of this group. But, a start nonetheless.

Posted by: Tim Rudisill | Apr 7, 2011 7:27:25 AM

Tim, many present expressed that it was a varied panel with information from different perspectives on an issue that quite simply is rarely discussed in a community forum and in a variety that they never hear anywhere else, in one place. Also, to be sure, the breadth of experience of the panelists is not (appropriately) detailed in this blog, but it's a fact that several individuals on the panels have hundreds of hours of experience with those in isolation units all over the country.

Some of the best resources on this issue, official or not,leave out the experiences of prisoners in certain locations, types of isolation units, types of facilities, women prisoners' isolation, disabled prisoners, etc, in isolation, which can be markedly different from others. However, some are excellent resources and are of great benefit to understanding the commonalities that exist among types of isolation, its history in penal facilities,its purposes, and its effects. (An example might be Atul Gawande's piece in the New Yorker). This panel was one of the most diverse forums I have seen in presenting information on distinct types of isolation units across the U.S. So I believe it should actually be noted for that, and as someone who attended the event, have to disagree with you.

Posted by: anon | Apr 7, 2011 12:33:05 PM

Thanks for your share,thanks a lot.Good luck!

Posted by: Big pony | Apr 11, 2011 6:00:29 AM

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