'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Saturday, August 20, 2011

News from a Nation in Lockdown 

UPDATE 1: A video of a cell extraction at the News from a Nation in Lockdown site, as pointed out by Yusef:


Consider perusing the comments to the video, as Yusef suggests.

INITIAL POST: James Ridgeway and Jean Casella have done extraordinary work in revealing the brutalities of the US prison system through their blog, Solitary Watch. They have posted numerous accounts about the abuse of inmates by placing them in solitary confinement for indefinite periods, sometimes for years and years, as was the case with Ojore Lutalo, who spent the majority of his 26 year sentence for armed robbery in isolation because of his involvement in anarchist and black nationalist organizations:

Ridgeway and Casella have posted the accounts of other inmates on a YouTube channel, News from a Nation in Lockdown, as explained here. A cursory reading of Solitary Watch reveals that many of the practices of the purported war on terror originated in US supermax prisons. Consider, for example, this account by Pornchai Moontri:

Every day there was the same monotony: breakfast at 0530 followed by forty-five minutes alone in the rec pen. That was like a big dog cage. I could take exactly eleven steps inside it and then back again. It was about five feet wide and eight feet long with chain link on all sides and above. It really was a cage. I could have a fifteen-minute shower five times a week, and one fifteen-minute telephone call per week. There was no use of a TV or radio.

Lunch was always at 11:30 and dinner at 4:30. Four times a day guards would come to count me at the same time every day. I would have to stand up or sit on the concrete bunk. I was allowed to look at three books per week. I would take any books that were big so they would last a long time. I read the Bible cover to cover twice. I read Stephen King books because they were big. I also read Shogun and any other large novel I could get. At O7OO every day, someone would come by with a tube of toothpaste, put a dab on my finger, and I would brush with that.

Super Max was so depressing and so solitary that prisoners would try to cut themselves deeply or hang themselves just to get out of there. Since this Super Max prison opened in 1992, there have been three inmate deaths there by suicide (one was a suspected homicide), and hundreds of prisoners were seriously injured. One prisoner was extracted from his cell so he could not harm himself, and then he died from the injuries he sustained while being extracted.

The longer a prisoner stayed in Super Max, the more anti-social he became. Inmates would do anything to try to break up their day and entertain themselves. Some played with their own urine and feces, and others used those as weapons, throwing them at the guards after calling their names to get their attention. Some of the more manipulative would talk other prisoners into acting up. I know today that we acted like animals because we were treated like animals.

Supermaxed.com makes the connection explicit by means of a webpage that provides links to resources related to US prisons, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and Afghanistan.

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