Law and Disorder Radio

Archive for the 'political prisoner' Category


Law and Disorder December 21, 2015


Updates:

  • Co-host Attorney Michael Smith Reflects On The Anti-Union Oppression In Detroit And Wisconsin In The Late 50s

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Trumbo

In the late 1930s and early 40s, many artists, writers, and intellectuals who sympathized with the poor, the labor movement, and the fights against racism and fascism aligned themselves with the Communist Party – which was then following the Stalinist policy of the “popular front”.  Hence, when the governments anti-Communist witch-hunt got underway soon after the end of the second world war in 1946, many in Hollywood were placed under suspicion. Lists of names were drawn up, and those named were subpoenaed by the house committee on un-American activities (HUAC). Novelist and screenwriter Dalton Trumbo had joined the Communist Party in 1943, and he was on that list. In 1947, when called to testify before the HUAC, Trumbo refused to testify on the basis of freedom of association and freedom of thought, both supposedly guaranteed by the First Amendment to the constitution known as the Bill of Rights.  Trumbo spent 11 months in federal prison in Kentucky. He was blacklisted and couldn’t get a job in Hollywood for 13 years, but won Oscars is for two movies that came out under other names. The movie Trumbo starring Bryan Cranston does an effective job of showing the fear of communism that was generated in those dark times and how it decimated Hollywood and was used for thought control.

Guest – Zachary Sklar, Oscar-nominated co-screenwriter of Oliver Stone’s film JFK, and author of the book JFK: The Book of the Film. He’s a journalist, and a professor at the Columbia School of Journalism. He was also a contributor to The Lies of Our Times, a monthly journal dedicated to exposing the truth behind the mainstream media. Zach collaborated with director Oliver Stone on the screenplay of the movie “JFK” and was editor of Jim Garrison’s book “On the Trail of the Assassins.”

Outgoing song – “Nothing” by the Fugs, performed by the Down Hill Strugglers

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Climate Change Conference COP21

The meeting on controlling climate change by reducing greenhouse gases produced by fossil fuels concluded in Paris last week and involved representatives from every nation in the world. The agreement that came out a Paris is widely believed by climate change activists to be not nearly enough; That we need more reductions or our very existence is threatened. Critics of the talks say that it fell short because there were no timetables and no targets and no binding commitments.

Guest – Eleanor Stein, teaches a course called the Law of Climate Change: Domestic and Transnational at Albany Law School and SUNY Albany, in conjunction with the Environmental  and Atmospheric Sciences Department at SUNY. Eleanor Stein is teaching transnational  environmental law with a focus on catastrophic climate change. For ten years she served as an Administrative Law Judge at the New York State Public Service Commission in Albany, New York, where she presided over and mediated New York’s Renewable Portfolio Standard proceeding, a collaboration and litigation of over 150 parties, authoring in June 2004 a comprehensive decision recommending a landmark state environmental initiative to combat global warming with incentives for renewable resource-fueled power generation.

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Law and Disorder December 14, 2015


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Drug Policy Alliance Looking Forward

In slow yet incremental steps, progress is being made toward establishing more sensible and humane drug policies in the United States.

The past half century has been characterized by politically-motivated hysteria around the so-called War on Drugs, resulting in harsh sentencing laws, and a subsequent soaring of mass incarceration rates. Half of the federal prison population is in for drug offenses, and the result has been highly detrimental to families and communities.

Two years ago former Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department would begin to reassess the draconian mandatory minimum sentences on non-violent drug offenders that disproportionately target young African American and Latino males. Such public pronouncements, along with continued grassroots organizing, and heightened public awareness that the War on Drugs has been an abysmal failure, are helping to shift the tide in drug policies. The Drug Policy Alliance has made measurable strides in criminal justice reforms such as in helping to  decriminalize marijuana in Colorado and Washington.

Guest – Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, the leading organization in the United States promoting alternatives to the war on drugs. Nadelmann received his B.A., J.D., and Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard as well as a Masters’ degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics, and taught at Princeton University for seven years. He has authored two books – Cops Across Borders and (with Peter Andreas) Policing The Globe – and his writings have appeared in most major media outlets in the U.S. as well as top academic journals.

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Radicals In America: The US Left Since The Second World War

Radicals in the United States, often controversial and frequently dismissed by the status quo, have nonetheless played a significant role in mobilizing social justice movements.  In the recently published book “Radicals in America: The U.S. Left since the Second World War,” authors Christopher Phelps and Howard Brick have compiled
a comprehensive history of radicalism that includes the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle through the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The list of accomplishments by the Left is significant, including: racial integration, desegregation of the armed forces, the maintenance of labor unions for nearly 50 years until the election of President Ronald Reagan, the rise of feminism, abortion-rights, and the American withdrawal from Vietnam. The authors of Radicals in America explain how successive generations join movements of dissent, face political setbacks and repression and yet still have succeeded in sparking the imagination among mass movements.

Guest – Christopher Phelps, historian of modern American political and intellectual life. Born near Washington, D.C., he has taught at universities in five countries: Britain, the United States, Poland, Hungary, and Canada. He is author of the intellectual biography Young Sidney Hook (Cornell, 1997; 2d ed., Michigan, 2005) and Radicals in America (Cambridge, 2015), a comprehensive history of the American left since the Second World War co-authored with Howard Brick.

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Law and Disorder November 30, 2015


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Lawyers You’ll Like – Attorney  Carol Sobel

As part of our Lawyers You’ll Like series, we’re joined today by civil rights attorney Carol Sobel. Attorney Sobel has spent more than 2 decades working in various positions for the ACLU, including as Senior Staff Attorney. She also chaired the National Lawyers Guild mass defense committee for many years helping coordinate a nationwide defense of Occupy protesters and marshaling legal defense at several Democratic and Republican National conventions.

Carol has been involved in numerous significant cases in federal and state courts including on behalf of homeless individuals on Los Angeles’ skid row. She has been involved in numerous significant cases in federal and state courts. She served as local counsel for the Center for Constitutional Rights in Humanitarian Law Project v. Ashcroft and served on the Rampart Blue Ribbon Panel investigating police corruption in California. A graduate of the Peoples College of Law, since 2002, Carol has been named as one of Los Angeles’ Super Lawyers for Civil Rights.

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The War ISIS Wants: Nafees Hamid

Today we take a look into the psychology of terrorist recruitment and mindset in the wake of the coordinated attacks in Paris carried out by the Islamic state. We also look at the profound allure of the propaganda bringing young Muslims in to join ISIS and become a Mujahid. The transition from regular person to a warrior willing to die for the revolution happens quickly. In the article titled Paris: The War ISIS Wants by Scott Atran and Nafees Hamid, the ISIS movement is described as a trans-national movement, a sub state that doesn’t depend on an infrastructure of a state system. That and ISIS’s unitary message and appeal has created a big problem for the west using military action and ramped up mass surveillance to combat and intercept terrorist acts.

Guest – Nafees Hamid, Social Psychologist Nafees Hamid of University College London, researcher, actor and author of many articles including The War ISIS Wants.

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Law and Disorder November 16, 2015


Updates:

  • University of Illinois Reaches Tentative Settlement With Professor Steven Salaita

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Wedlocked: Law Professor Katherine Franke

While the movement for marriage equality by the LGBT rights community has been a leading civil rights issue of the 21st century, it’s not the first movement seeking the right to marry. Slaves who were freed in the 1860s also organized for, and ultimately won, the right to marry at the end of the Civil War. As Professor Katherine Franke argues in her new book, WEDLOCKED: The Perils of Marriage Equality: How African Americans and Gays Mistakenly Thought the Right to Marry Would Set Them Free, tying the definition of free and equal citizenship so intimately to the institution of marriage presents its own set of problems.

In Wedlocked, Professor Franke meticulously compares firsthand accounts of African Americans’ struggle for freedom and civil rights with lessons for today’s marriage equality movement. This association offers two lessons: first, be careful what you wish for, as the backlash against new rights holders may set back the larger cause for equality; and second, the two movements for marriage rights may help expose the differences between racism and homophobia.

Guest – Professor Katherine Franke is the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, where she directs the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. She is among the nation’s leading scholars in the area of feminism, sexuality and race.

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Remembering Attorney Liz Fink

Civil rights and criminal defense attorney Liz Fink was remembered last week at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City.  She was best remembered for the work she began as a young woman when prisoners rioted and took over a part of Attica Prison in 1971. Liz got involved when Senator Nelson Rockefeller, who was running for president and didn’t want anything unseemly to happen in his state, ordered the retaking of the Attica Prison. Forty-three people were killed including a number of prison guards.

Liz Fink was on the defense team for those charged with crimes and then she brought an offensive civil suit against Rockefeller and the other state and prison officials who were responsible for these murders. Three decades later the suit was settled for $12 million. Liz Fink was also a long time member of the National Lawyers Guild. We hear selected speeches from the event remembering Attorney Liz Fink.

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Law and Disorder November 2, 2015


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Tapping In To The Flow: NSA Global Surveillance

We spoke with the director of the Library Freedom Project about a New Hampshire library standing its ground by using the TOR browser to protect the anonymity of its patrons from DHS surveillance. A victory yes, but also another stark reminder of what society now confronts while under a total surveillance state. Government spying technology has quietly built up its networks and invisible webs of surveillance. It’s mostly unseen, data passing through the air, cables behind walls, in the ground and underwater.  Trevor Paglen brings these images and concepts into the public consciousness in his recent exhibit at a New York City Chelsea gallery.

Guest – Trevor Paglen has photographed and written about drones, military black sites and satellites. He’s an artist, image maker, journalist and engineer. He holds a PhD in experimental geography and contributed research and cinematography to the Academy Award-winning film Citizen Four.

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National Lawyers Guild Convention 2015

Natasha Bannan is the president of the National Lawyers Guild, as well as a human rights lawyer and Associate Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF. At that national civil rights organization she works with low-wage Latina immigrant workers, and on the domestic implementation of human rights norms. Previously, she worked in the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic at CUNY School of Law and at the Center for Reproductive Rights. While attending CUNY School of Law, she was Editor-in-Chief of the CUNY Law Review and a Fellow at the Center for Latino and Latina Rights and Equality.

Guest – Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, president of the National Lawyers Guild has advocated before international and regional human rights bodies on issues including colonialism, sexual violence in armed conflict, reproductive rights violations and hate crimes.  She has written several articles and reports, specifically on gender and human rights. Natasha also co-chairs the National Lawyers Guild’s Subcommittee on Puerto Rico.

 

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Law and Disorder October 19, 2015


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Puerto Rico: The Crisis Is About Colonialism, Not Debt

The commonwealth of Puerto Rico is in a social and financial crisis owing some 73 billion dollars to U.S. banks, hedge funds and vulture funds.  The people of Puerto Rico are extraordinarily impoverished particularly the children. Last August the government of Puerto Rico failed to make a 58 million dollar debt payment on what they call a moral obligation bond held by U.S. banks and corporations. The crisis reflects centuries long colonialism and in particular the last centuries of American policies toward Puerto Rico which favored American investments which were then taken out of the island.

Guest – Attorney Linda Backiel, a criminal defense attorney and poet living and practicing law in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Here is Linda Backiel’s transcript  from the talk she gave at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Criminal Justice Act.

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US Intel Vets Decry CIA’s Use of Torture

Former CIA leaders responsible for allowing torture to become part of the 21st Century landscape are seeking to rehabilitate their sullied reputations with the release of the book, Rebuttal: The CIA Responds to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Study of Its Detention and Interrogation Program. They claim that the primary allegations against them stem from a partisan report issued by Democrats from the Senate Intelligence Committee.  In fact, the Senate Intelligence report on torture enjoyed bipartisan support. But if the public doesn’t carefully read the extensively footnoted Senate Intelligence Committee report it may be easy for many to believe that the CIA officers are victims of a political witch hunt. As well, these officers seem to rely on the erroneous fact that a segment of the population continue to believe that the practice of torture is effective is gleaning information important to national security.

Guest – Raymond L. McGovern retired CIA officer turned political activist. McGovern was a Federal employee under seven U.S. presidents in the past 27 years.  Ray’s opinion pieces have appeared in many leading newspapers here and abroad.  His website writings are posted first on consortiumnews.com, and are usually carried on other websites as well.  He has debated at the Oxford Forum and appeared on Charlie Rose, The Newshour, CNN, and numerous other TV & radio programs and documentaries. Ray has lectured to a wide variety of audiences here and abroad.   Ray studied theology and philosophy (as well as his major, Russian) at Fordham University, from which he holds two degrees.  He also holds a Certificate in Theological Studies from Georgetown University.

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Law and Disorder October 12, 2015


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Uncivil Rites: Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom

Just before the start of the 2014 academic year, the board of trustees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign revoked a tenured professorship of renowned American Indian studies professor Steven Salaita. The abrupt termination of employment was in response to Salaita’s public tweets criticizing the Israeli government’s summer assault on Gaza. Enormous public outcry followed the scholar’s firing, with thousands petitioning for his reinstatement, and more than five thousand scholars pledging to boycott UIUC. The case raises significant questions about academic freedom, free speech on campus, and the growing movement for justice in Palestine.  In his new book Uncivil Rites, Salaita brings personal reflection and political critique to bear on his high-profile and controversial termination. He deftly positions his case at the intersection of important issues affecting higher education and social justice activism.

Guest – Steven Salaita holds the Edward W. Said Chair of American Studies at the American University of Beirut. The author of six other books, he is a columnist for Electronic Intifada and a member of the Organizing Committee of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI).

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The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in the US

A new report, “The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in the US,” released by Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights, documents for the first time the widespread and growing suppression of Palestinian human rights advocacy in the US. A companion video features students and scholars discussing the backlash they have experienced for engaging in Palestine advocacy.

Palestine Legal, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the civil rights of people in the U.S., responded to nearly 300 incidents over an 18-month period. Eighty-five percent of the incidents—which included baseless legal complaints, administrative disciplinary actions, firings, harassment, and false accusations of terrorism and antisemitism—targeted students and scholars. Driven by a network of Israel advocacy organizations, these efforts target the movement for Palestinian rights in the U.S., which has grown significantly over the last decade.

The report includes case studies and testimony from advocates targeted for their speech. It outlines a notable increase in federal and state legislative efforts to condemn or restrict advocacy for Palestinian human rights, including legislation that conflates criticism of Israeli policy with antisemitism.

Guest – Dima Khalidi is the founder and Director of Palestine Legal and Cooperating Counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). Her work includes providing legal advice to activists, engaging in advocacy to protect their rights to speak out for Palestinian rights, and educating activists and the public about the repression of Palestine advocates. Dima has a JD from DePaul University College of Law with a concentration in International Law, an MA in Comparative Legal Studies from the University of London – School of Oriental and African Studies, and a BA in History and Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan.

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Law and Disorder October 5, 2015


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New York City Councilors Issue Proclamation Honoring Ethel Rosenberg on her 100th Birthday

The Rosenberg atomic spy case of 1951 was one of the most famous political trials in American history.  Both Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were from New York and had been active in the American Communist Party.  When they were arrested in 1950  it was at the height of the hysteria during the infamous red hunting McCarthy decade.  In 1950 the Russians first tested their atomic bomb and United States initiated the Korean War to roll back the revolution there.  The effects the cold war and the execution of the Rosenbergs was devastating to the Left.  Ethel and Julius were electrocuted to death at Sing Sing prison two years later.  At the sentencing, federal judge Irving Kaufman said that the Rosenbergs were guilty of facilitating the death of some 50,000 American soldiers in the Korean War and President Eisenhower. Declining to grant clemency, he said they might be responsible for the death of tens of millions of people in an atomic war. The government tried to get Julius Rosenberg to confess and give names. A representative from the Attorney General’s office visited him at Sing Sing prison. Rosenberg said no. He said “We are the victims of a most monstrous frame up.”

Subsequent scholarship has shown that Ethel Rosenberg was totally innocent and that Julius Rosenberg was not an atomic bomb spy and that there was no secret to the atomic bomb, it was a question of industrial technique.

Now, 62 years, later Ethel Rosenberg was honored by the New York city Council on the steps of City Hall September 28 with a proclamation of her innocence. It would have been her one hundredth birthday. We hear audio excerpts from the press conference and from Michael Smith and Heidi Boghosian speaking with Robbie Meeropol,  Meriam Moscowitz and  Attorney Danny Myers.

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(T)ERROR

In a twist on the confidential informant genre, the new film (T)ERROR chronicles a Bureau investigation without the FBI knowing it’s being watched. Filmmakers David Felix Sutcliffe and Lyric Cabral follow ex-con Saeed “Shariff” Torres, who claims to have made hundreds of thousands of dollars a year befriending Muslim targets accused of pro-terrorism inclinations. Shariff alienated a Brooklyn community of Muslim friends by helping convict jazz bassist Tarik Shah just for talking about training members of Al Qaeda. In 2005 Shariff revealed to filmmaker Cabral that he was an FBI informant. He later agreed to let her and Sutcliffe film details of his work without the FBI’s knowledge.  The movie shows how Shariff was directed to befriend Khalifah Al-Akili, a white Muslim convert who has publicly made pro-terrorist statements. After Shariff and the FBI trying to get Khalifah to shift from words to deeds, he goes public with suspicions that the FBI has targeted him.

Guest – David Felix Sutcliffe, is a Sundance award winning documentary filmmaker. In 2013, he was included in Filmmaker Magazine’s annual list of “25 New Faces of Independent Film.” His first film, ADAMA (PBS, 2011), is an hour-long documentary that explores the story of a 16-year-old Muslim girl growing up in Harlem who was arrested by the FBI on suspicion of being a “potential suicide bomber.” (T)ERROR, co-directed with acclaimed photojournalist Lyric R. Cabral, is his feature-length documentary debut, and marks the first time that filmmakers have had access to an active FBI informant in a domestic counterterrorism investigation. (T)ERROR premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival where it won a Special Jury Prize for Break Out First Feature.
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Law and Disorder September 29, 2015


Updates:

  • Hosts Remember People’s Lawyer Liz Fink

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The American Museum of Tort Law

After trial lawyers told him they had no place to display exhibits they had used in court, Ralph Nadar realized that there isn’t a single museum devoted to the law in the United States. That’s about to change. The consumer advocate is opening the American Museum of Tort Law in his hometown of Winsted, Connecticut to celebrate victories of the law over corporate power. The museum will span the history of tort law – civil law that seeks relief for people injured by wrongful acts of others – and host exhibits on significant cases such as the 1998 national settlement with tobacco companies. Nader said it may also host artifacts including a Chevrolet Corvair – the car featured in his 1965 book “Unsafe at Any Speed,” which made him a household name.

Guest – Ralph Nader, attorney, political activist, consumer advocate, presidential candidate and author who among many accomplishments is responsible for 8 major federal consumer protection laws and helped established the PIRGS – Public Interest Research Groups.

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The Library Freedom Project Protects Library From DHS Surveillance

With a population just above13,000 people,  the quaint town of Lebanon, New Hampshire is nestled not far from the Connecticut river in the northwest corner of the state – a few miles from Dartmouth College. In July, the local library set up a system to protect the privacy of patrons using its computers by installing Tor, the platform that routes users’ Internet traffic through various relay points, making warrantless surveillance of browsing habits and traffic more difficult.  The Kilton Library’s Tor relay node attracted the attention of the Department of Homeland Security, which contacted local officials and law enforcement, warning that Tor could aid criminal behavior. In response, the library intially took down the relay, but later changed its mind and reinstalled it.

Guest – Alison Macrina is a librarian, privacy rights activist, and the founder and director of the Library Freedom Project, an initiative which aims to make real the promise of intellectual freedom in libraries by teaching librarians and their local communities about surveillance threats, privacy rights and law, and privacy-protecting technology tools to help safeguard digital freedoms.

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Law and Disorder September 21, 2015


Updates:

  • Heidi Boghosian Reports Back On A Visit With Mumia Abu-Jamal
  • ACTION: Please call Secretary of Pennsylvania Corrections John E. Wetzel  717-728-2573
  • Also call John Kerestes Superintendent At SCI Mahanoy 570-773-2158

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Recent Victory In Washington State Outlawing Charter Schools

After nearly a year of deliberation, the Washington State Supreme Court recently ruled 6-3 that charter schools are unconstitutional. The ruling is believed to be one of the first of its kind in the country  and overturns the law voters narrowly approved in 2012 allowing publicly funded, but privately operated, schools. The parties have 20 days to ask the court for reconsideration before the ruling becomes final. In the ruling, Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote that charter schools aren’t so-called “common schools” because they’re governed by appointed, rather than elected, boards. Therefore, she wrote: “money that is dedicated to common schools is unconstitutionally diverted to charter schools.” The ruling represents a victory for the coalition that filed the suit in July 2013, asking a judge to declare the law unconstitutional for what they described as improperly diverting public-school funds to private organizations that are not subject to local voter control.  Lawyers from the Attorney General’s Office are reviewing the decision, as is the governor’s office.

Guest – Michelle Fein, author of “Charter Schools and the Corporate Makeover of Public Education: What’s at Stake?” Michelle Fein has a Master’s degree in Education with a specialty in interdisciplinary curriculum, social studies and science. She has taught for more than 15 years in private, charter and public schools and was the director of a local charter school for four years.

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Ending Long Term Solitary Confinement in California Prisons

After years of litigation by the Center for Constitutional Rights, hunger strikes and protracted debate, the state of California has finally agreed to move thousands of prison inmates out of solitary confinement. Last week a legal settlement between the state and a group of inmates held in isolation for a decade or more at Pelican Bay State Prison will end the use of solitary confinement to control prison gangs. Jules Lobel, the lead attorney and president of CCR, calls this a dramatic step forward.   Legal challenges to the states’ reliance on solitary confinement have been mounted since a panel of experts told the state corrections department that the high numbers of inmates in lengthy isolation did little to improve prison security.  The state has agreed to create small, high-security units that house inmates deemed most dangerous in a group setting where they are entitled to many of the same privileges as other prisoners: contact visits, phone calls and educational and rehabilitation programs. Inmates found guilty of specified offenses — including murder, attempted murder, drug trafficking, arson, and extortion — are confined in security housing at Corcoran State Prison.

Large isolation units such as the one at Pelican Bay were built in the 1980s in response to high rates of inmates and officers being killed. California has moved over 1,000 prisoners from solitary into general population in the last two years, with little problem.The majority of the several thousand gang-associated prisoners who have been either kept in isolation a decade or more, or have gone at least two years without a major rule violation, will move back to general population. The state prison guard union, which tried unsuccessfully to intervene in the case, says the state may return to the 70s and 80s environment where inmates and staff were killed at high rates. California once led the nation in the use of solitary confinement but Texas is no #1. California has some 6,400 inmates in isolation units, a number that shrank for two years as the state changed its criteria for behavior considered gang activity and began removing prisoners. California has segregation units at several prisons, but the largest and most notorious is at Pelican Bay, near the Oregon border. Inmates spend nearly 23 hours a day in windowless cells that face a concrete wall. Forensic psychiatrists testified on behalf of the inmates that such conditions cause psychological damage. The UN has called it torture.  Joining us to discuss this hard-won victory is Jules Lobel.

Guest – Attorney Jules Lobel, has litigated important issues regarding the application of international law in the U.S. courts. In the late 1980’s, he advised the Nicaraguan government on the development of its first democratic constitution, and has also advised the Burundi government on constitutional law issues.  Professor Lobel is editor of a text on civil rights litigation and of a collection of essays on the U.S. Constitution, A Less Than Perfect Union (Monthly Review Press, 1988). He is author of numerous articles on international law, foreign affairs, and the U.S. Constitution in publications including Yale Law Journal, Harvard International Law Journal, Cornell Law Review, and Virginia Law Review. He is a member of the American Society of International Law.

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