2013-07-23    Prison torture - shame USA!     This article as it appeared in Ming Pao

According to the United Nations, keeping a prisoner in solitary confinement for more than 15 days constitutes torture. But in the United States there are currently some 80,000 (!) inmates in prolonged solitary confinement. Many of them have been there for years, even decades!

Prisoners in solitary confinement spend 23 hours a day in an 8-foot by 10-foot cell in conditions of extreme isolation and sensory deprivation. The windowless cells have a toilet-shower section, and a slot in the door large enough for a guard to slip a food tray through.  Each day the prisoners are taken, often in handcuffs and chains, to another solitary cell where they can pace alone for an hour before being returned to their own cell.

This explains the present hunger strike by some 30,000 inmates in California. The story has not received much coverage in Hong Kong, but it is shaping up as a major issue in the US, with some people hoping for Federal intervention as happened in 1963 when President Kennedy took on Governor George Wallace of Alabama over the issue of racial segregation at a university.

There are now more than 2,000,000 people in US prisons. 16% of the 2,000,000 suffer from mental illness. The whole situation of prisoners in the US, especially of those in long-term solitary confinement, is a matter of great shame for "The Land of the Free"