Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

10/23/2013 (9 months 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 (9 months 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'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More U.S.

Malinformed much? Ninety percent of your information now comes from just 6 media sources Watch

Image of Small media outlets are consumed by the large, limiting the variety of expression.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Have you ever tried to describe something, but lacked the vocabulary to do it? This is the concept behind Newspeak, a fictional language in George Orwell's 1984. Orwell proposed that by limiting expression, thought itself could be limited. Today, as media companies ... continue reading


Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage struck down Watch

Image of The Virginia case, Bostic v. Rainey, was brought by two same-sex couples. Fourteen thousand gay couples also were certified as a class for the suit.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a dramatic reversal of a voter-based 2006 decision, U.S. appeals court this week struck down Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, the latest in a string of court rulings to back gay marriage. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit ... continue reading


Archbishop Chaput Speaks at the Napa Institute Conference on Pope Francis and Economic Justice

Image of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput is one of the preeminent Churchmen of our age. He offers a prophetic voice for this important time. He not only grasps and articulates Catholic Social Doctrine well, he also understands the real treasure we have been given in this Pope who took the name Francis. I believe that his insights into Pope Francis need to be read by as many people as possible.

By Catholic Online

In matters of economic justice, Francis' concerns are the same as Benedict's and John Paul II's and Pius XI's and Leo XIII's. He understands economic matters through the lens of Church teaching in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Like his ... continue reading


Thousands of Christians Flee Under Death Threat From Tyrannical Caliph and ISIS Jihadists Watch

Image of (Pictured: Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, or Caliph Ibrahim) At first, Christians were ordered to gather in a central place to receive the directive from the self appointed Caliph. Understandably, given the track record of this maniacal tyrant, few did. So, the text of the statement was issued as a formal declaration to all Christians - We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract - involving payment of Jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

By now, everyone who is in anyway concerned about what is happening to Christians in Iraq has heard the horrific news. The madman who claims to be a descendant of Mohammed, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi - who in his delusion and grandiosity has taken to calling himself ... continue reading


Bridget of Sweden, Marriage and Family, and the Need for Canonized Married Saints Watch

Image of St Bridget of Sweden, her husband Ulf, and all the modern Popes call Christian married couples to become the 'Sweet and Smiling Face of the Church' in this age. This is an age which is desperately in need of all kinds of saints. I suggest we particularly need examples of married, canonized Saints. That is precisely because this is an age where faithful marriage is now counter-cultural. We need examples of men and women who not only embraced it in Christ, but lived it as a but a path to heroic virtue.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The clear teaching of the Bible, the Christian tradition and the re-emphasis of the last Council in the Catholic Church, the Second Vatican Council, make clear - we are ALL called to holiness in life. That  is what the Catholic Church regularly refers to as ... continue reading


Deacon Keith Fournier: The Courage of the Catholic Bishops, Religious Liberty, Hobby Lobby and ENDA Watch

Image of Deacon Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and six grandchildren, He serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Stephen, Martyr Parish in Chesapeake, VA. He is also a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate. Deacon Fournier is a graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville (Theology and Philosophy, BA), the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University (Theology of Marriage and Family, MTS), and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law (JD). He has completed requirements for the PhD in Moral Theology at the Catholic University of America and is writing the PhD dissertation on the teaching of St. John Paul II.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Catholic Bishops are doing an excellent job standing up for Religious liberty as a fundamental human right. One of my growing concerns is that many Catholics do not even read what they are saying. Sadly, in a propagandized media where sound bites substitute ... continue reading


Obama demands that illegals be allowed to enter U.S. Watch

Image of Tens of thousands of illegal, unaccompanied minors have flooded into the United States since 2014 began, often escaping violence in war torn Central American countries.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama's administration is considering whether or not it will allow hundreds of minors and young adults from Honduras and other war-torn Central American states to enter into the United States illegally and without crossing into the country ... continue reading


Are you ready for the next dust bowl? California is! Watch

Image of A new study suggests that the Colorado River Basin is rapidly running out of water, which may be disastrous for the seven states it supplies.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

According to a report published by the American space agency and the University of California, the water crisis that is punishing the southwestern United States is likely to worsen. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The report found that the prime source of water ... continue reading


PLAGUE OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS: Mayflies descend on Wisconsin Watch

Image of When summer arrives, Mayflies take flight and proceed to mate before immediately going back to the water to lay eggs and die.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's a plague of Biblical proportions. Ugly mayflies have descended on the state of Wisconsin, covering up exterior services like so much black, metallic dust. Photos coming out of Wisconsin is sure to send viewers itching - so beware of some of the sights in ... continue reading


Catholic Bishops Decry Obama's LGBT executive order as imprudent act of religious discrimination Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The chairmen of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty and Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth have been strong in their condemnation of President Obama's legislation on LGBT employees. "Today's ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Gospel, John 11:19-27
19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 29th, 2014 Image

St. Martha
July 29: "Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus." This unique ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter