Monday, December 26, 2016

Torture is a Moral Issue, Recommend Book : 23/7 by Keramet Reiter

The United States is a global outlier in its use of incarceration 
and solitary confinement, with five percent of the 
world’s population yet twenty-five percent of the world’s incarcerated. Recent developments at the United Nations 
are animating efforts to bring the U.S. in line with
 international human rights standards.

Our faith communities have an important role to play and with your support NRCAT will continue to resource and mobilize communities to do their part.  
A contribution today will help us reach our $10,000 year-end matching challenge -- doubling your impact.

Last December, the UN General Assembly approved major 
revisions to the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, guidelines first drafted in 1955. The revised rules are called the “Nelson Mandela Rules” in honor of the late South 
African President who was incarcerated for 27 years under the apartheid regime. The Mandela Rules prohibit indefinite solitary confinement, prohibit prolonged solitary confinement beyond 
15 consecutive days, and ban solitary for those most 
vulnerable to its impacts. 
The rules state that “solitary confinement shall be used 
only in exceptional cases as a last resort, for as short 
a time as possible and subject to independent review.” 

These standards reflect the recommendations of the now former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Méndez, 
whose 2011 report on solitary is shaping the way policy-makers think about the torture of isolation in U.S. prisons, jails and detention centers. Remarkably, the U.S. delegation to the commission that drafted the Mandela Rules included top 
state prison administrators from Colorado and Washington 
who have seen first-hand the profound human cost of solitary on incarcerated people and prison staff and the benefits of implementing humane alternatives.

This fall, I joined an event hosted by Mr. Méndez at the United Nations marking the release of a new report, 
Seeing into Solitary, comparing the use of solitary in
 35 jurisdictions globally. The findings in the report 
underscore that the U.S. is among the most punitive 
in its use of isolation globally and are a call to action for communities of faith and conscience.

With your support through a tax-deductible donation
NRCAT will resource religious communities with the 
tools to promote the Mandela Rules to decision-makers 
at all levels of government. Your support gives 
NRCAT the financial resources to fight the 
human rights crisis of solitary and work to 
make human rights a reality for all. 

Thank you for your generosity.

Rev. Laura Markle Downton
Director of U.S. Prisons Policy & Program

Bridget Mary's Response:

Our entire criminal justice system is broken and in need of radical reform. On the issue of solidary confinement, I recommend that you read 23/7 by Keramet Reiter who shares stories and research about the history of California's policy of solitary confinement, a disturbing story of cruelty that is beyond the imagination for the emotional suffering and harm it has perpetuated on human beings in prison.
Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,

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