Senate Hearing This AM on Solitary Confinement

The Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, will hold a hearing this morning on solitary confinement. It begins at 10 am ET. BOP Director Charles Samuels will be speaking. I wonder if his medical director and co-defendant, Newton Kendig, will be with him. Sen. Richard Durbin is chairing the hearing. There will be a webast at the Senate's website.

The lawsuits are trickling in now. (More here. I hope the side arguing against solitary confinement gets the most media attention.

The biggest horror story I've read yet is that of John Jay Powers, in the suit filed yesterday:

Mr. Powers was convicted of bank robbery in 1990. At that time, he had no history or symptoms of serious mental illness. While in custody, he witnessed three inmates murder another inmate, stabbing him 13 times. He was transferred to protective custody, twice testified against the murderers, and suffered repeated threats against his life by other inmates. Around this time, he began to suffer from PTSD. He briefly escaped from prison and was transferred to ADX in 2001, where he spent nearly 10 years in an isolation unit and became mentally deranged.

While at ADX, Mr. Powers has amputated his testicle, bitten off his finger, amputated his scrotum, and repeatedly attempted suicide. In 2009, a BOP psychologist concluded that Mr. Powers “does not have an active mental disorder” and “is not in need of custody for care or treatment.” Since then, he has bitten off another finger, tattooed himself extensively, amputated his scrotum, sliced off his earlobes, sawed through his Achilles tendon, and mutilated his genitals.

ADX officials have frequently treated these acts as disciplinary violations, and until very recently have denied him medication.

After the hearing, write your Senators, and let them know this is the wrong course for America.
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    A quick correction: it's Richard Durbin, (none / 0) (#1)
    by caseyOR on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 06:43:05 AM EST
    not Charles. Dick Durbin is the senior senator from Illinois.

    Good for Richard Durbin (none / 0) (#7)
    by Peter G on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 08:42:40 PM EST
    trying, despite being in the U.S. Senate, to make some sense.

    address violence in prison (none / 0) (#2)
    by Steve27 on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 07:49:54 AM EST
    How is it that so much violence in prison is tolerated? Now that low cost surveillance equipment is available it should be possible to determine who is the instigator of prison attacks. Every violent act in prison gets your sentence extended. Being law abiding and cooperative gets your time reduced.

    The point being that if people behave you do not need solitary confinement.

    It's not about the prisoners... (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by kdog on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 08:08:42 AM EST
    it's about us as a society, and what the conditions of our prisons and solitary confinement and Supermax and the death penalty say about us as a people.  

    It says we're sick....let's heal.


    Of course (none / 0) (#3)
    by jbindc on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 08:02:10 AM EST
    "If people behaved" there might not be a need for many of these prisons in the first place.

    More to the point (none / 0) (#5)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 09:23:54 AM EST

    We have prison stabbing murders knowingly captured on video now.  Video will deter some but not others.  

    Whatcha gonna do with a lifer that murders another?  Another meaningless life term?  Solitary?  Oops, maybe solitary is not or soon will not be an option given the topic of the thread.