Target: United States Attorney General Eric Holder
Goal: End the abuse of inmates in solitary confinement in the Pelican Bay Prison
Pelican Bay Prison, one of the first supermax prisons in the country, is infamous for the number of inmates held in solitary confinement. Over 1000 inmates live in tiny, barren, concrete cells with no outside contact and very limited visitation. Demand that the United States Department of Justice put an end to this abusive uses of solitary confinement.
Though some inmates are violent offenders, others have been placed in solitary for the most tenuous of reasons. Alleged gang connections are based upon evidence that is flimsy or biased at best: an investigative report revealed that prisoners may be placed in solitary for something like possessing African-American literature or writing about prisoners’ rights. This is clearly an egregious violation of basic principles of justice, and a complete abuse of power.
The length of solitary confinement is also completely inexcusable and inhumane. Over 500 inmates have spent upwards of a decade in solitary confinement. Many others have spent more than twenty years in solitary, placed there for alleged gang associations.
Just a few months without real human interaction, outside visitation, or contact with the world has often shown to be psychologically devastating, resulting in symptoms similar to those of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; years of solitary confinement, especially for no justifiable reason, is therefore completely inexcusable and inhumane.
Nor are outside prosecutors involved in validating reasons to place inmates in solitary confinement. The process essentially comes down to one individual, and is not overseen by a judge or jury.
Pelican Bay Prison should not be allowed to continue using solitary confinement in this manner. Inmates should not be condemned to inhumane confinement without proven, justifiable cause or reason.
Dear Attorney General Holder,
California has the largest population of inmates in the United States, and a huge number are confined in solitary confinement. Pelican Bay Prison, one of the first supermax prisons in the country, is no exception, and is in fact notorious for its solitary confinement practices. Inmates are kept in solitary confinement for extremely long periods of time, and often for no justifiable reason. Many are placed in solitary for ostensible association with gangs, but allegations in these cases are based upon flimsy evidence.
These practices are completely unacceptable. I demand that the United States Department of Justice end this egregious abuse of inmates. Solitary confinement should not last for years at a stretch, nor should prisoners be confined for no justifiable reason or on shaky evidence of alleged gang involvement.
I ask that you take action to end the abuse of prisoners, and protect inmates from abuses of power and unjust confinement. This abuse simply cannot continue. It is a stain on the justice system of the United States, and a violation of basic, constitutionally protected rights.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Fairv8 via Wikimedia Commons