Living Gospel Equality Now: Loving in the Heart of God: Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
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.
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, www.arcwp.org