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October 7, 2009

Solitary confinement panel at Stanford Law School's public interest conference

I just received this e-mail from a helpful 2L student at Stanford Law School about a notable panel taking place at a notable event later this month:

I'm currently a 2L at Stanford Law School, and I'm writing because I'm organizing a panel on the topic of solitary confinement, as part of Stanford's upcoming annual public interest conference, "Shaking the Foundations." ...

The conference takes place Oct 16 to 17, and the solitary confinement panel will be on Saturday afternoon at 3:15pm.  Professor Joan Petersilia will be moderating, and panelists include J. Clark Kelso, the federal receiver in charge of medical care in California's prisons, Nick Trenticosta, who represents the "Angola 3" prisoners in their suit against the Louisiana Prison for holding them in solitary confinement for over 30 years, and Terry Kupers, a psychiatrist with extensive experience studying the psychological effects of prison conditions.  We are also working to finalize a speaker who will talk about their personal experience in solitary confinement.

The panel description, and others, can be found on our website at this link.

October 7, 2009 at 04:08 PM | Permalink


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Doug: Would you please pass my e-mail address along to the Stanford 2L who wrote you about the solitary confinement panel? I would be happy to appear on his panel, as I have first-hand knowledge and experience about such confinement. In addition to being a graduate of Vanderbilt University and the Univ. of Virginia School of Law (J.D. 1987), I served an 8 year sentence in 10 different Federal prisons between 2000 and 2008, during which I was detained 23+ hours per day in the Special Housing Unit, in solitary confinement conditions (alone or with a single cell mate) for time totaling 3 years. I have also met and lived with inmates who did time at B.O.P. Super Max in Florence, Colorado. One inmate I knew had spent 11 years in solitary confinement in both the Control Unit at USP - Marion, Illinois and Super Max in Florence, Colorado. Ironically, his crimes involved stealing planes from airports, which he then sold to drug smugglers, who flew them to South America and back. If they want someone with first hand experience, I can tell them way too much about it.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Oct 7, 2009 5:22:33 PM

Sounds like a balanced **cough** conference. I could tell just by the title, "Shaking the Foundations."

Posted by: yipper | Oct 7, 2009 8:26:14 PM

yipper --

Stanford's hat-tip toward "balance" was (1) to build a garden named in honor of Chief Justice Rehnquist (I swear I'm not making this up); and (2) to hire Mike McConnell when he left the Tenth Circuit. So now the faculty is something like 40 to 1, liberal to conservative.

This does not stop them from continuously asking for money to fund, among other things, their Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, which to my knowledge has never seen a terrorist they didn't like or wouldn't defend.

The law school also tried an end-run aroung the Solomon Amendment when two-thirds of the faculty, including the then-Dean, wrote to the few students who had signed up to interview with military recruiters, telling those students in polite language that this was a bad idea and that they should re-think their interest in talking with such a backward and intolerant organization.

Then they wonder why alumni contributions are down.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 7, 2009 10:37:11 PM

Yo, 2L. You are OK in my book. It is great that you are organizing this conference. Good topic.

Question for you. Were you ever told the technical meaning of the word, reason, and reasonable? It comes from Scholasticism. You were told this meaning when you took 10th Grade World History, on the High Middle Ages, or collge Western Civ 101, covering St. Thomas Aquinas. It may have slipped your memory after 1L.

Intellect, intelligence, perception are subject to the weakness and misdirection from the Fall from Eden, and the Deadly Sins, perhaps from Satan himself. Reason is the ability to perceive God in his human form, Jesus, and is the most reliable guide to moral decision making. Thus the word, reasonable means in accordance with the New Testament. And the reasonable person is really the example of Jesus Christ, the New Testament being the book about Him.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 7, 2009 11:52:37 PM

Bill. You would probably be disappointed to know that criminal defense lawyers loved having Judge McConnell on the 10th Circuit. He ruled in favor of the defendant many times.

Posted by: 10th Circuit practioner | Oct 8, 2009 3:08:10 PM

10th Circuit practitioner --

So does Scalia these days. The reason in both cases is that neither McConnell nor Scalia is outcome-determined. They decide the cases as they think the Constituion requires, and if the criminal wins, too bad.

To my way of thinking, this makes them principled men. It's OK, I guess, for politicians to nudge things one way or the other to benefit various constituent groups. It is decidely NOT OK for judges. This is why, for example, it was appalling to see a recent presidential candidate suggest that he would appoint judges who would vote for the "little guy," or the "single teenage mom," or "working people not big business." The idea that judges should come to the bench determined to put a thumb on the scale of justice to favor one group or another is awful.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 8, 2009 8:20:57 PM

To let everyone know, we've just confirmed two additional speakers who will be present to talk about their personal experiences serving time in solitary confinement. We're very excited about the panel and their participation!

Registration is only $5 for students, and $20 for nonstudents, at http://shaking.stanford.edu/registration.html.

Posted by: SLS 2L | Oct 9, 2009 7:11:39 PM

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