We have all been horrified by the death of Soleiman Faqiri while in custody in Ontario, and are standing with the family to demand answers. Mr. Faqiri's death was the latest of fifteen deaths last year at a correctional facility, or at a hospital following a transfer from a facility, in Ontario. These deaths are the most awful consequence of the heedless expansion of the prison system over the past decade.
Chip in to keep stories like these coming.
Thousands of prisoners will be moved out of solitary confinement in California, thanks to a landmark legal settlement announced this week. Grassroots organizing can be tough, but when done by prisoners locked up in solitary confinement, some of them for decades, it is astounding.
The settlement grew out of a federal class-action lawsuit alleging violations of the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
Twelve days after his 22nd birthday, Kalief Browder wrapped an air-conditioner power cord around his neck and hanged himself. In 2010, at the age of 16, he was arrested after being accused of stealing a backpack. He would spend three years in New York City's Rikers Island prison, more than two of those years in solitary confinement. He was beaten by prison guards and inmates alike. He was not serving a sentence; he was in pre-trial detention. He declined all plea bargains. He wanted his day in court, to prove his innocence. A judge finally dismissed the case against him. After his release, Kalief Browder tried to reclaim his life. In the end, the nightmare he lived through overwhelmed him. Two years after his release, he committed suicide.
There has been much attention, and rightly so, on the CIA's extensive use of torture, which the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is said to have documented in its still-classified 6,000-page report. The use of torture is not limited to the CIA, however. It is all too common across the United States. Solitary confinement is torture, and it is used routinely in jails, prisons and immigration detention facilities here at home. Grassroots movements that have been pressuring for change are beginning to yield significant results. The coalitions include prisoners, their families, a broad swath of legal and social-justice groups and, increasingly, prison guards and officials themselves.