E.D. Soffiyah Elijah Discusses Cuba Incarceration Models in Guernica Interview
In 2015, CA Executive Director Soffiyah Elijah organized three trips to Cuba, providing travelers an opportunity to observe up close how Cuba’s criminal justice system operates in comparison – and contrast – to the way that the United States’ system prosecutes and incarcerates people. In a recent 2016 issue of Guernica magazine, writer Hyatt Bass, a member of one of the CA delegations to Cuba, interviewed Elijah about the distinctions between the two countries when it comes to the concept of punishment.
In the conversation entitled, “Lessons from Cuba’s Incarceration Model,” the women share their perspectives on what they both agree is a broken U.S. criminal justice system, while giving the reader a glimpse into Cuba’s prison conditions for men, women and youth, approaches to rehabilitation, re-entry, proximity to home communities, and access for foreign visitors to their prisons. Elijah. a veteran visitor to Cuba and a seasoned observer of the workings of the American criminal justice systems, was the ideal guide. As she observed, “You don’t have this demonization and stereotyping that we have here, where incarcerated people are so ostracized they’re like the untouchables.”
When Cassidy Green learned that she was pregnant, she and her husband didn’t discuss cribs, co-sleeping, or even diapers. Instead, they worried about more basic and immediate challenges, like whether Green would be able to spend more than a few days with her baby. Green was in prison, 9 years into a 15-year prison sentence [...]Read More
“Prison Within Prison: Voices of Women Held In Isolated Confinement in New York” is a collection of oral and visual observations from twenty women about their experiences being held in isolated confinement in New York’s women’s prisons and Rikers Island. They are advocates and leaders on a range of issues in the movement to end [...]Read More
WOMEN AND ISOLATED CONFINEMENT Women held in isolated confinement are subjected to dehumanizing treatment—treatment that makes it difficult for them to maintain their dignity, hygiene, nutrition and personal property. They can get in trouble for something as simple as attempting to talk to the person next to them. They are denied commissary privileges which provide [...]Read More