Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

10/23/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Many prisoners are kept in indefinite solitary confinement with no knowlege of when they might be released.

Americans love prisons. Since 2002, the nation has had the highest rate of incarceration in the world and a significant number of those prisoners are held in extreme isolation for prolonged periods of time, a condition argued by many that equates to torture.

Could you survive if this were your reality for years on end, without any human contact? What about for life?

Could you survive if this were your reality for years on end, without any human contact? What about for life?

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/23/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: UN, US, Special Rapporteur, confinement, solitary, prison, cruel


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) -The United States houses 1.6 million of its citizens in prisons, or about 500 per every 100,000 people. This is about five times higher than the average incarceration rates for other countries comparable to the U.S. The statistics come from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Over 90 percent of the incarcerated are men and most of those are in their 20s and 30s. About 70 percent have not completed high school. Blacks are incarcerated at a rate six times that of whites despite being significantly less of the overall population.

A number of these prisoners are housed in solitary confinement, which means they have no contact with other people. Housed alone in a cell, they are fed on a tray pushed through a slot three times a day, and only leave their cell for less than an hour each day, and often less, for exercise.

Exercise takes place in a "yard" which is entirely enclosed and is often little larger than the cell itself. Showers are supervised. There is no human contact whatsoever, no conversation, no music, and in some cases, no photographs, newspapers or magazines.

The punishment is the most extreme form of discipline meted out in the United States, short of the death penalty. It harkens back to 17th century Quaker-inspired prison reforms where an inmate was expected to sit alone with their thoughts and a Bible, contemplating their salvation.

The goal of course, is that the prisoner finds God in their despair and discovers hope, even happiness in their condition through Christ. Yet in the modern prison, even if this happens, there is no improvement of the condition. Instead, prisoners continue their daily routine which amounts to a living death.

According to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Inhuman Punishment, Juan E. Mendez, solitary confinement for a period exceeding  14 days is considered torture. Studies show that lasting psychological harm can arise after only a few days of solitary confinement. Humans are social creatures and confining them can cause psychological damage.

But what about the victims? Many, but not all of these prisoners are held in solitary confinement because they behaved reprehensibly in public life. Some sold drugs, some raped, others murdered. They have all been convicted of crimes and great punishment is certainly justified.

However, should that punishment reach the level of torture? What happens when someone so tortured is expected to return to polite society?

In August, about 30,000 prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison in California embarked on a hunger strike to protest what they say are inhumane conditions there. Pelican Bay is one of the hardest prisons in the state with many of its prisoners kept in solitary confinement.

Prisoners in that facility stay 7.5 years, on average in the "hole" as it is called, and "far beyond what is acceptable under international human  rights law" according to the UN.

A good number of those prisoners will be released back into society, carrying with them whatever baggage they developed in the hole. That makes this practice a danger to citizens on the street.

There's no question that segregation of certain inmates is sometimes necessary, and there is no question that many of these people deserve it.  However, indefinite isolation is exceptionally cruel and inhumane. If we are to be better than the criminals we imprison, then we cannot reduce ourselves to the level of torturers.

We must punish, and ensure justice, which is the role of the state. However, we must also be inspired by our Christian witness and show at least a modicum of mercy even in cases where it is hardly deserved. Ending solitary indefinite detention is one step in the right direction for all.

A birth foretold: click here to learn more!

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
Universal:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More U.S.

'Church ladies' finally force phony priest in Los Angeles to authorities Watch

Image of Erwin Mena  was arrested by Los Angeles police for allegedly impersonating a Roman Catholic priest and on suspicion of grand theft (Los Angeles Times).

By Mary Rezac, CNA/EWTN News

For months, Erwin Mena donned vestments, called himself "Padre," and convinced Southern California Catholics that he was a priest, police say. Los Angeles, Calif. (CNA/EWTN News) - He was good at it, too, reportedly. He attended seminary in El Salvador for a time ... continue reading


Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis to Meet in Cuba in Historic Move of the Holy Spirit Watch

Image of Orthodox Christian Patriarch Kirill and Catholic Christian Pope Francis

By Deacon Keith Fournier

This meeting of the Primates of the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, after a long preparation, will be the first in history and will mark an important stage in relations between the two Churches. The Holy See and the Moscow Patriarchate hope that ... continue reading


'Deeply disturbing': ANOTHER Planned Parenthood video has been released by the Center for Medical Progress (Warning: Graphic Content) Watch

Image of Yet another undercover video featuring the horrors of Planned Parenthood's illegal acts has been released (Leda Oreskovich).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released another video featuring Planned Parenthood officials casually - and even happily - discussing the revolting practice of murdering infants in the womb then mercilessly cutting them to pieces for profit. Meanwhile, after ... continue reading


Phony priest celebrated masses, funerals and performed marriages - for more than 20 years! Watch

Image of Operating out of St. Ignatius of Loyola in northeastern Los Angeles, Erwin Mena allegedly sold tickets to a pilgrimage to visit New York to see the Pope during his visit to the United States last year (Facebook).

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

He might have talked a good talk and walked a good walk, but authorities finally caught up with fifty-nine-year-old Erwin Mena, who posed as a priest for more than 20 years in Los Angeles. Mena was arrested and will enjoy a lot of time in small rooms - with bars on the ... continue reading


'Christian Refugees 2 Christian Nations, Muslim Refugees 2 Muslim Nations, That's Only Fair': Protesters rally in Missoula County Courthouse Watch

Image of Protesters stand in snow (not pictured) to stand against new influx of refugees into America (AP).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In an effort to ease the strain on other countries who have accempted several thousand refugees, the Obama administration plans to send refugees to smaller Montana cities. Over 120 Montana citizens faced snow and ice on Monday to protest outside the Missoula County ... continue reading


Why did secret Muslim Obama visit a controversial mosque? Watch

Image of Why is Obama visiting a mosque with questionable ties?

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

President Obama is visiting a controversial mosque in Baltimore today, one that has ties to Islamic extremism. Even fellow Muslims are upset that he chose the Islamic Society of Baltimore for his visit, when he could have chosen more "moderate" mosques. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


In the minds of murderers: 9/11 began with a small question and grew to a national tragedy Watch

Image of 9/11 was based on a flight that crashed into the sea (Reuters).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The horrific tragedy of 9/11 was reportedly started when Osama bin Laden heard of the murder-suicide on EgyptAir Flight 990. The plane's pilot crashed into the ocean, prompting bin Laden to wonder why he didn't choose to crash into a building. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


What does the Super Bowl have to do with the Catholic Church? Watch

Image of

By CNA/EWTN News

Who else is facing off during the Super Bowl? Catholic Charities. Whether fans are rooting for the Denver Broncos or the Carolina Panthers in the upcoming NFL Super Bowl 50, Catholic Charities of Denver, Colorado, and Charlotte, South Carolina are uniting to host ... continue reading


Did the Groundhog see his shadow? 6 fun facts about Groundhog Day you never knew before Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The fate between winter and spring anxiously awaited the arrival of the weather-predicting groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil. The furry groundhog emerged from his hole on February 2 in search of a shadow ... that he never found. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According ... continue reading


'The Way' with Deacon Fournier: Are We Driving Jesus Out of Our Lives? Watch

Image of An artists rendering of the anguish of the Gerasene demoniac before he was delivered by the power of Jesus Christ.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

These biblical accounts need to be read, re-read, prayed over, and then read again and again and again. They need to be applied in our own lives, if we want to fully experience the healing of the wounds caused by our own sin and be freed from our own spiritual ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Kings 3:4-13
4 The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, since that was the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14
9 How can a young man keep his way spotless? By keeping your ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 6:30-34
30 The apostles rejoined Jesus and told him all they had done and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 6th, 2016 Image

St. Paul Miki
February 6: Paul was the son of a Japanese military leader. ... Read More