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Posted inCruel and Unusual?, Government, Health & Welfare, Justice & Safety

Wisconsin joins national push to curb solitary confinement

Wisconsin has made a “culture shift” in its use of solitary confinement in prisons, eliminating it as punishment for minor rule infractions and cutting the time inmates spend in isolation for more serious offenses, Department of Corrections officials revealed in an interview granted as part of a legal settlement with the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

Posted inCruel and Unusual?, Government, Health & Welfare, Justice & Safety

President Obama: Solitary confinement ‘not smart’ and ‘not going to make us safer’

President Barack Obama called for reduction of solitary confinement during a July 14 address to the NAACP National Convention in Philadelphia: “I’ve asked my Attorney General to start a review of the overuse of solitary confinement across American prisons. “The social science shows that an environment like that is often more likely to make inmates […]

Posted inCruel and Unusual?, Government, Health & Welfare, Justice & Safety

Billionaire Charles Koch: ‘Reversing overcriminalization and mass incarceration will improve societal well-being’

In a Jan. 7 column for Politico Magazine, billionaire Charles Koch said the United States is paying a “heavy price” for leading the world in incarceration, driving a large number of people into poverty and harming the national economy. “Reversing overcriminalization and mass incarceration will improve societal well-being in many respects, most notably by decreasing […]

Posted inCruel and Unusual?, Government, Health & Welfare, Justice & Safety

Making friends with a fly: One man’s story of solitary confinement

Former inmate Talib Akbar says years spent in segregation in the Wisconsin prison system took a toll on his mind. Akbar now lives alone in a small RV that he parks around Madison while volunteering for Wisdom, a statewide faith-based group that campaigns against solitary confinement. The drawing Akbar made while confined in a cell […]

Posted inCruel and Unusual?, Government, Health & Welfare, Justice & Safety

From ‘isolation panic’ to ‘social death’: Going crazy in solitary

Craig Haney is a University of California-Santa Cruz psychologist who for more than two decades has studied the effects of solitary confinement on inmates. During a 2013 interview for PBS’ Frontline program, Haney described what happens to people held under such deprivation. “Some prisoners react very negatively very quickly. They experience what has been termed […]

Posted inGovernment, Justice & Safety

How the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism investigated prison-abuse allegations

The DOC, citing security reasons, denied the Center’s requests to interview inmates and take photographs in the segregation unit at Waupun, or videotape an inmate at another facility. It redacted from the released records references to inmate injuries and the physical or mental health treatment they received. It categorically denied access to formal complaints filed by inmates against guards, although some released records do convey the inmates’ perspective. And it denied access to video recordings to various incidents, saying this would compromise security.