Reflections on Abu Ghraib: The Use and Abuse of Prison Power in the United States
On December 6, the Correctional Association sponsored Reflections on Abu Ghraib: the Use and Abuse of Prison Power in the United States. A crowd of over 300 joined a panel of prison experts to discuss what the images of abuse from Abu Ghraib reveal about the nature of American prisons; how the public outcry over these images provides an opportunity to reflect on why prison conditions should matter to those of us outside the walls; and how prison officials and independent monitors can prevent and curtail abusive practices in prisons and jails.
The panel was moderated by Michelle Fine, professor of Psychology at the Graduate Center at CUNY and author of several books on women in prison and class, race and justice in education.
Along with CA Executive Director Robert Gangi, the panel included Jamie Fellner, Director of the U.S. Program at Human Rights Watch and author of the report “Ill-Equipped: U.S. Prisons and Offenders with Mental Illness”; Martin Horn, Commissioner of the New York City Departments of Correction and Probation; Elaine Bartlett, formerly incarcerated survivor of the Rockefeller Drug Laws and subject of Jennifer Gonnerman’s book Life on the Outside; Ted Conover, journalist and author of Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing; and Ron D. Daniels, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and longtime advocate for social justice.
We were very pleased by the enthusiastic response to this event and plan to have more like it in the future. Many thanks to our co-sponsors: the Center for New York City Affairs at New School University, the Nation Institute, and the National Council for Research on Women this event would not have been possible without their generous support.
The CA has been monitoring the high rates of suicide and self-harm in the state prisons for more than a decade and has repeatedly drawn attention to excessively high rates of harm at certain prisons and in specific locations, such as solitary confinement and residential mental health units, to the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), the Office of Mental Health (OMH) and the legislature in the CA’s reports and legislative testimonies. DOCCS suicide rate from 2010-16 was 56% higher than the national average for all US prisons.Read More
If New York state were punishing misbehaving prisoners by pulling out their fingernails, I believe our local senators and assemblymen would put a stop to this. Yet the legislature continues to allow the extended use of solitary confinement in prisons. Make no mistake, this is torture. Don’t take my word for it. Go spend 15 [...]Read More
Reports & Research
“Solitary at Southport: A 2017 Report Based Upon the Correctional Association’s Visits, Data Analysis, & First-Hand Accounts of the Torture of Solitary Confinement from One of New York’s Supermax Prisons”
“The isolation itself is torture. Mentally and emotionally, it breaks you down. Spiritually it strips you. The way it is built is to break you down as a person and push your family away.” From “Solitary at Southport” Solitary confinement is torture. New York State subjects people to solitary confinement and other forms of isolation [...]Read More