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 July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More U.S.

Making the punishment fit the crime - Ohio judge doles out unusual sentences Watch

Image of Judge Michael Cicconetti's type of justice seems to be working, as only 10 percent of those who complete the judge's unusual sentences wind up in court a second time.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Making the punishment fit the crime seems to be the method behind Judge Michael Cicconetti's madness. The Ohio judge metes out unusual sentences in lieu of hefty fines and jail time. It must be working, as those sentenced to perform the unlikely, court-mandated ... continue reading


Pope Francis holds virtual audience with Americans prior to U.S. visit Watch

Image of Pope Francis participated in a virtual audience hosted by ABC News. Moderated inside the Vatican by ABC News'

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Speaking to Americans nationwide, Pope Francis participated in a virtual audience hosted by ABC News. Moderated inside the Vatican by ABC News' "World News Tonight," the segment will air this Friday, September 4, on ABC's "20/20" news program. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


'It just fell out': Latest Planned Parenthood hidden-camera footage reveals a sickening lack of human values (WARNING: Graphic Video) Watch

Image of Procurement Manager, Perrin Larton

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Planned Parenthood is exposed once again in another undercover video from the Center for Medical Progress. A conversation with Dr. Katharine Sheehan, long-time medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest until 2013, Perrin Larton, the Procurement ... continue reading


MASSIVE MANHUNT for three suspects on the loose after killing an Illinois officer Watch

Image of The FBI, U.S. marshals, SWAT, ATF, K9 units and Chicago police all search for the three suspects.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

UPDATE: One of the suspects has been taken into custody Tuesday afternoon following the deadly shooting of Charles Gliniewicz.A police officer on a routine patrol was shot and killed around 8am Tuesday morning in Fox Lake, Illinois. Law enforcement officers flood the ... continue reading


Standing with God: Thousands stand up for a traditional marriage and pro-life America Watch

Image of Thousands come to the Stand with God rally outside the South Carolina statehouse lawn.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

People flocked to the South Carolina statehouse lawn to advocate the defunding of Planned Parenthood and reversal of the legalization of same-sex marriages. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - The pro-traditional family and pro-life demonstration in South ... continue reading


Supreme Court abandons Kim Davis, her martyrdom should come quickly Watch

Image of Until quite recently, the notion of putting a public servant into position to choose between their faith and their work has been inconceivable. Faith has always been protected but not anymore.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Rowan County Clerk, Kim Davis had her day in court and it went badly. However, she still has her job, and she is still conducting herself with dignity despite the media circus surrounding her office. Ms. Davis still refuses to issue marriage licenses to same sex ... continue reading


Mount McKinley will now be officially recognized by its original name - Denali Watch

Image of The tallest spot in the continental United States, Mount McKinley, will now be known by its original name given it by native Alaskans: Denali.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The tallest spot in the continental United States, Mount McKinley, will now be known by its original name given it by native Alaskans: Denali. The Obama administration took charge to end a lengthy disagreement by the states of Ohio and Alaska. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Undocumented immigrants denied U.S. birth certificates for children born in Texas Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An amicus brief was filed Monday evening by the Mexican government over the denial of U.S. birth certificates of illegal immigrant children born in Texas. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - According to Fox News, denials of birth certificates were due to the ... continue reading


Are mass shootings the result of American exceptionalism? Watch

Image of Aurora theater shooting aftermath.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new study shows America has the highest rate of mass shootings in the world due to the "dark side of exceptionalism." MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Adam Lankford, a criminologist at University of Alabama discovered The United States has experienced five ... continue reading


5 things to look forward to during Pope Francis' visit to the United States Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis is set to visit Washington D.C, New York and Philadelphia, USA this coming September 22-27, 2015 for the World Meeting of Families. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Listed below are 5 things to look forward to during his visit:1. Focus on family ... 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, Colossians 1:1-8
1 From Paul, by the will of God an apostle of Christ ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:38-44
38 Leaving the synagogue he went to Simon's house. ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 2nd, 2015 Image

St. Ingrid of Sweden
September 2: Born in Sknninge, Sweden, in the 13th century, St. Ingrid lived ... 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