Thursday, February 27, 2014

Limiting Solitary Confinement in Corrections

The New York Civil Liberties Union scored legal victory in its challenges against long-term solitary confinement, the New York Times reported on February 19, 2014. See an excerpt below:

New York State has agreed to sweeping reforms intended to curtail the widespread use of solitary confinement, including prohibiting its use in disciplining prisoners under 18. In doing so, New York becomes the largest prison system in the United States to prohibit the use of disciplinary confinement for minors, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union . . . State correction officials will also be prohibited from imposing solitary confinement as a disciplinary measure for inmates who are pregnant, and the punishment will be limited to 30 days for those who are developmentally disabled, the court filing says.

The agreement imposes “sentencing guidelines” for all prisoners, specifying the length of punishment allowed for different infractions and, for the first time in all cases, a maximum length that such sentences may run, the civil liberties group said. No such guidelines exist, except in cases involving certain violent and drug-related offenses.

On February 25, 2014, USA Today published the following encouraging news:  Leaders of a Senate panel called on federal and state prison authorities Tuesday to ban the use of solitary confinement for juveniles, pregnant women and the mentally ill as part of a national reassessment of the harshest method of incarceration. Citing the country's extensive use of solitary confinement since the 1980s, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said the extreme conditions contribute to the gradual deterioration of prisoners' mental health.

On October 18, 2011, a United Nations expert on torture called on all countries to ban the solitary confinement of prisoners except in very exceptional circumstances and for as short a time as possible, with an absolute prohibition in the case of juveniles and people with mental disabilities.

“Segregation, isolation, separation, cellular, lockdown, Supermax, the hole, Secure Housing Unit … whatever the name, solitary confinement should be banned by States as a punishment or extortion technique,” UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez told the General Assembly’s third committee, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural affairs, saying the practice could amount to torture.

“Solitary confinement is a harsh measure which is contrary to rehabilitation, the aim of the penitentiary system,” he stressed in presenting his first interim report on the practice, calling it global in nature and subject to widespread abuse.

Solitary confinement causes and worsens mental illness and is an extreme punishment even for inmates with sound minds. Solitary confinement has caused much controversy in recent years. Prisoners in numerous correctional institutions united and staged hunger and labor strikes to protest solitary confinement and other harsh practices that are objectionable from a human rights standpoint. Some American inmates have been interned in tiny solitary cells for decades, including people who are generally considered to be political prisoners, like the Angola 3 in Louisiana.

Dr. Mustafa Ansari, an International Human Rights Attorney who was featured on the Human Rights for Prisoners March broadcast in February 2014, said: "The United States signed the Convention on Torture and Degrading Treatment. The United Nations' Special Rapporteur says that more than 15 days in solitary confinement is illegal. The State has the right to rule; however, the State should rule correctly and release these prisoners. The Human Rights Defenders that we train [at American Institute of Human Rights] will move to have ALL of political prisoners removed from solitary confinement and some from prison with compensation for their harm. As the U.N. Special Rapporteur said, 'Indefinite and prolonged solitary confinement in excess of 15 days should be subject to an absolute prohibition.'" 

Solitary Confinement May Dramatically Alter Brain Shape In Just Days, Neuroscientist Says

Excerpts from the article by ThinkProgress dated February 18, 2014: 
Solitary confinement has been called a “living death,” cruel and unusual, and torture. Studies of the prison practice of placing inmates in a solitary, often concrete windowless cell for 23 hours a day with almost no human contact, have found that the psychological impact is dramatic after just a few days.

A University of Michigan neuroscientist suggested Friday that the physical impact on the brain could be just as significant if not moreso, and could “dramatically change the brain” in just a matter of days. Speaking on a panel about solitary confinement, neuroscientist Huda Akil said a number of other studies have documented how each of the factors involved in solitary confinement change the physical shape of the brain. 

The lack of physical interaction with the natural world, the lack of social interaction, and the lack of touch and visual stimulation alone are each “by itself is sufficient to dramatically change the brain,” Akil said at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting. She said particular parts of the brain that are subject to extreme stress can “actually shrink,” including the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory, spatial orientation, and control of emotions.

God bless America with justice for all! Join the MaryLovesJustice Prayer Meeting at 9pm PST every Sunday on National Network in Action at BlogTalkRadio when Christians pray for improvements in the justice system. On Feb. 23, we prayed against SOLITARY CONFINEMENT. "It is not good for man to be alone" ~Gen. 2:18.

Thanks to Elisa Obeso, who discussed her daughter, Bianca Marquez, on the "Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill (AIMI)" Blogtalkradio broadcast. We broadcast Wednesdays at 9pm PST. AIMI endeavors to decriminalize mental illness by exposing and opposing mistreatment of mentally dysfunctional people like Bianca, who is suffering in solitary confinement this very minute in Arizona State Prison - Perryville, the Lumley Unit.

Referenced Sources:
NY Times
USA Today

CONGRATULATIONS to the NY Civil Liberties Union, New York State, the United Nations, and the U.S. Senate for deliberations and advancements in effecting humane incarceration without long-term solitary confinement. Long-term solitary confinement and execution are extreme punishments that should not be used by any civilized nation.

Call or write with information about legal victories you wish to highlight or (678) 531.0262.
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Friday, February 7, 2014

Dr. Mustafa Ansari, American Institute of Human Rights

Dr. Mustafa Ansari

Congratulations to Mustafa Ansari, international lawyer and dedicated human rights defender with 20 years proven record of accomplishments in legal education, human rights activism, and personnel management. He is Dean of the American Institute of Human Rights, and he is Chief Justice of Indigenous African American Reparations Tribunal. Below is a url carrying our interview with Dr. Mustafa Ansari on our "Human Rights for Prisoners March" Blogtalkradio show, recorded on Monday, February 3.

Dr. Ansari spoke about CLE classes for attorneys and judges in international human rights law as well as classes and certification for human rights defenders and human rights monitors. Dr. Ansari is committed spreading knowledge about America's human rights treaties and laws (such as EO 13107). Courses are available through Internet access to equip both attorneys and qualified non-attorneys to file complaints directly with the International Court.

Dr. Ansari and the International Institute of Human Rights are anxious to acquaint more people with human rights laws. He also would like for more attorneys to learn International Law and cite international laws and treaties when defending clients and writing pleadings in civil actions. Many justice quests that may have failed in America's courts should be taken before the International Court. Therefore, Dr. Ansari now produces a weekly radio show on Blogtalkradio, called "Dr. Ansari's Human Rights Reports." The first broadcast was Tuesday, February 11, 2014, at 1pm EST, and can be accessed below:

If you are interested in receiving personal contact about the courses, please indicate your interest in comments below or email ~ Registration begins soon for the 16-week courses for Human Rights Monitors and Human Rights Defenders. Learn more about International Human Rights Treaties that America's justice system is already bound to uphold.

Congratulations to the United Nations and Dr. Mustafa Ansari on your work for human rights for all!

Call or write with information about legal victories you wish to highlight or (678) 531.0262.
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Sunday, February 2, 2014

ACLU's Victory for Native Americans

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) won a legal victory in their milestone lawsuit on behalf of Native Americans. See part of the ACLU's report below:

This week, the ACLU won an important battle on the road toward protecting the rights of American Indian children and their parents and tribes. Chief Judge Jeffrey L. Viken of South Dakota's federal District Court ruled that a lawsuit filed by the ACLU in March of 2013 can go forward, rejecting motions filed by the defendants that sought to have the case dismissed. The suit, brought on behalf of the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux Indian Tribes and a class of Indian parents, aims to ensure that state courts in South Dakota respect the rights granted to Indian parents by the Constitution's Due Process Clause and the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA). The defendants include a state court judge, a county prosecutor, and the director of the South Dakota Department of Social Services.

Recognizing that nothing "is more vital to the continued existence and integrity of Indian tribes than their children," ICWA's express purpose is "to protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families." Why did Congress pass this statute? Because a congressional investigation in the mid-1970s revealed some truly shocking statistics: Between 25 and 35 percent of all Indian children nationwide had been removed from their families by various state welfare agencies and courts. In one state, the adoption rate for Indian children was eight times higher than that of non-Indian children. In another, Indian children were 13 times more likely than non-Indian children to be placed in foster care. These alarming numbers were the result of more than a century of failed policy, in which state officials could not or would not respect Indian communities' cultural and social standards.
Continue to read about the ACLU victory at this url: "Important Victory for Indian Tribes"

Congratulations, ACLU, for the ruling that your lawsuit can proceed.

(Because of interference, this article is repeated in comments. The comments are prevented from opening on some cellphones. I am America's most censored.) Native American children are frequently removed from their homes and reservations because false charges were levied against men in their households alleging sexual assaults. This justice advocate recently met two families who claim their men were falsely charged, prosecuted in corrupt courts, and wrongly convicted for sex crimes against children that never happened. The cases are USA vs. Juan Rojas and the USA vs. Yanktown4 (the Rouse family). Advocates for these five men allege misconduct by child welfare services, U.S. attorneys, expert witnesses, and some of their own tribal members to channel indigenous men into prison. Hear and read more at the urls below:

"Justice 4 Juan Rojas Blocked at Blogtalkradio"
(This is not allowed to show as a link on some cellphone views)

Juan Rojas is second from the right in the photo

Janice Howe reports, "Juan Rojas is a 37-year-old enrolled member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe who is currently serving two life sentences for sexual abusing his ex-girlfriend's two daughters. The girls were actually still virgins when examined by the doctor. The expert witness testified that the rape kits were inconclusive due to the fact that hymens grow back together all the time! The ex-girlfriend has a history of blaming men for sexually molesting her daughters whenever a boyfriend breaks up with her. She made these same false allegations against her ex-husband, but her daughters recanted their false statements against their father during his trial. Her daughters were going to recant their testimony against Juan Rojas, also. But due to prosecutoral misconduct, they did not. When their grandmother died, the U.S. Prosecutor, Mikal Hanson, went to the funeral told them that if they did recant their testimony against Rojas, their younger brother and sister would be taken away.

Before falsely accusing Juan Rojas of child molestation, the ex-girlfriend had accused Juan of raping her in state court, and the charges were dropped. Then the feds ended up prosecuting him in federal court for the sexual abuse of her daughters. He was wrongly convicted in a corrupt court process. Please help Juan Rojas regain his freedom." Read the entire article in Justice Gagged blog at the link above.

Presumed Guilty: Group Seeks to Exonerate Four Yankton Sioux Men
The National Center for Reason and Justice, which has mounted successful campaigns to exonerate those falsely accused of sex crimes against children, has taken on the cases of four Yankton Sioux men. Brothers Jesse and Desmond Rouse and their cousins Garfield Feather and Russell Hubbeling were convicted in federal court in 1994 of abusing five nieces who were aged 20 months to 7 years at the time. A fifth co-defendant was acquitted.

BURDEN OF PROOF -- According to Chatelle, the cases of Feather, Hubbeling, and the Rouse brothers display patterns NCRJ has seen before, including the burden of proof shifting -- improperly -- to the defendants. "They should be presumed innocent unless they are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," Chatelle said. "Instead, they are presumed guilty and must prove themselves innocent, which is far more difficult." Read the entire article at the url above.
The Rouse men remain behind bars. The defendants could have taken a plea deal and served a two-year sentence, but the men said they would prefer to die behind bars than to falsely claim molesting dear children in their family. 

Removing children from their families is traumatic. The ACLU article states that in some areas, Native American parents must wait an agonizing 60 to 90 days before they can learn why their children were removed, which violates the Due Process Clause and ICWA. The Rouse children were abducted by police and taken to a farm house to live among strangers without any explanation to their parents as to why the eleven children were taken. One of the children with whom I spoke (she is now an adult) said the authorities promised the Rouse children that if they lied on their relatives, they would be returned home, but they never were. I was told that the Rouse children have since recanted their false statements, and some took lie detector tests to prove their supposed molestation never happened. But the system is making prison profits off their relatives and refuses to acknowledge the men's innocence.

The congressional investigation showed that up to 35 percent of all Native American children had been removed from their families. Many of those removals coincided with wrongful convictions of Native American adults. Hear recent interviews with Rouse family members and supporters:

January 27 interview on "Human Rights for Prisoners March" radio show:

January 15 interview with Rouse family member and supporters:
Interference was intense during our January 15 interview for the first 11 minutes, after which time the interference focused primarily on Mary Neal, America's most censored.

An attorney in the Rouse case reportedly said about his clients' wrongful conviction, "THEY DESERVE IT FOR NOT CONVERTING TO CHRISTIANITY." As a Christian, I find that particularly offensive.

Janice Howe has also granted us interviews about her cousin, Juan Rojas. She will join us in prayers for justice on Sunday, February 2, 2014, on the MaryLovesJustice Prayer Meeting at 9pm Pacific

Call or write with information about legal victories you wish to highlight or (678) 531.0262.
Messages will be responded to within 24 hours, or please call again.
I endure First Amendment violations.