Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

10/23/2013 (1 year 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 (1 year 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'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More U.S.

Obama grants clemency, 22 prison inmates to be released Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Obama granted clemency to 22 prisoners with drug-related charges, according to the announcement of the White House on Tuesday. Eight of them were initially sentenced with life imprisonment and expected to die behind bars, if not for the clemency granted. ... continue reading


Entire Alaskan town's population amazingly lives in a single housing unit Watch

Image of Inside the 14-story building rests a police station, school, post office and health clinic.

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In Whittier, Alaska, nearly everyone lives in a single building. The 14-story Begich Towers is the residence of almost all the 218 members of the town, including the police station, a school, an indoor playground, two convenience stores, a B&B, a laundromat and the ... continue reading


Where did April Fool's Day really come from? Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Christianity is one of the factors that led to the creation of the April 1, according to the most popular theory of the April Fools' Day. This is not a joke: according to the theory of the two calendars, most Christians wanted to celebrate the start of the New Year on ... continue reading


Extending the Lie: Ken Blackwell Asks, Which Black Lives Matter? Watch

Image of J. Kenneth Blackwell

By J. Kenneth Blackwell

Almost seven months after the fateful, fatal encounter between Michael Brown and former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, Attorney General Eric Holder officially announced a truth he had been holding close for months - that the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" mantra ... continue reading


Americans gassed up their cars and took to the roads in a big, big way last year Watch

Image of In December, record-breaking traffic volume was reported with drivers logging 251.4 billion miles. Indiana led the pack with the highest single-state increase at 10.5 percent for that month.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's an American trait to gas up the car and take a drive - anywhere, and that certainly proved to be true last year. According to the Federal Highway Administration, or FHWA, Americans drove 3.02 trillion miles last year, the second-highest level of vehicle ... continue reading


Is the U.S. under Invasion? In nine U.S. States, troops to 'operate undetected amongst civilian population' Watch

Image of Despite assurances that the training is to prepare troops for overseas missions, Army documents in the past have made clear that plans for martial law are in place for within the Continental United States, or CONUS.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The military exercise is both mysterious and just a little bit threatening. The controversial Jade Helm military exercise, scheduled to take part in nine U.S. states this summer will involve soldiers operating "undetected amongst civilian populations." The ... continue reading


OPEN BORDERS: Children without guardians continue to stream into the United States Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Children without adult guardians, from the southern border that the United States shares with Mexico, continue to stream into the U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, speaking to Congress last week, says that these child immigrants number in the ... continue reading


Bella's Gift: The Santorum Book that Keeps on Giving Watch

Image of The book, Bella's Gift, has shaken me. On more than one occasion, it has forced me to my knees in tears. That is because, in a candid, honest, profoundly spiritual way, this splendidly written book puts the reader in the presence of unconditional love. then, through its deep spiritual truths, it unleashes the dynamic power of amazing grace.

By Keith A Fournier

I was with Rick Santorum at the Awakening Conference in Orlando, Florida. Rick and Karen Santorum are personal friends. Their whole family is a source of inspiration to me. But most especially, that little Princess named Bella Santorum. She is the center, the ... continue reading


Play-doh Christianity and the Vanishing Cross

Image of Bell can have his happy-clappy, navel-centered religion and his wimpy god. He just can't call it Christianity, and he can't claim it's the Church.

By Jennifer Hartline

There is no Christianity without Christ, and no Christ without the cross. There was no need for the cross except for our Redemption, and no need for that except for our sin. To preach Christianity without preaching repentance from sin and taking up your cross is ... continue reading


McDonald's does the unthinkable - Big Mac Shop launches McFashion clothing line Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Fast food conglomerate McDonald's had released its own fashion and lifestyle line, with the clothes full of Big Mac prints on them. The McFashion debuted on Tuesday in Sweden, in celebration of their most recent campaign, "I'm Lovin' It 24." Profit generated from the ... 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

Reading 1, Isaiah 50:4-9
4 Lord Yahweh has given me a disciple's tongue, for ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 69:8-10, 21-22, 31, 33-34
8 I am estranged from my brothers, alienated from my ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 26:14-25
14 Then one of the Twelve, the man called Judas ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 1st, 2015 Image

St. Hugh of Grenoble
April 1: Benedictine bishop of Grenoble, France, patron of St. Bruno. He ... 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