When U.S. President Barack Obama visited the El Reno Correctional Facility in Oklahoma last week to check on living conditions of prisoners incarcerated there, no one in authority could prevent him from visiting the prison.
Children in strollers held placards. Those unable to make it into the streets leaned out of high-rise apartment building windows, shouting support to the river of protestors below. For hours, several city blocks became a mass of red and blue, as scores of people waved the national flag of Puerto Rico. One name was on everyone’s lips, but the cause was broader than a single man.
He has not had human contact or a good night’s sleep in nearly three decades. Every single day, he wakes to the sound of metal doors clanging open and a pair of disembodied hands pushing a tray of food through a slot into his 64-square-foot cell.
U.S. officials on Wednesday issued strict new guidelines on the use of solitary confinement for detainees being held on immigration charges, the first federal policy decision following a strengthened public debate on the country’s unprecedented dependence on “segregated housing”.
As a mass hunger strike in the California prison system enters its third week, advocacy groups are warning that prison officials attempting to break the strike are breaching international human rights standards.
The U.S. federal prison system’s use of solitary confinement and other forms of “segregated housing” has increased substantially over the past five years, according to new data released by the U.S. Congress’s official independent watchdog.
“Being in isolation to me felt like I was on an island all alone, dying a slow death from the inside out,” said “Kyle B.” from California, who was placed in solitary confinement before he turned 18.