AUDIO: Solitary at Southport on “On the Count”

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From WBAI On The Count:

On Saturday, February 10, Tyrrell Muhammad was joined by Scott Paltrowitz, both of the CA, on WBAI’s  “On The Count” radio broadcast, to discuss and read excerpts from the recently released report, “Solitary at Southport.”

Southport Correctional Facility is one of the two super-maximum security prisons in NYS with the primary purpose of holding people in solitary or isolated  confinement.  Southport   was   originally a regular maximum security prison, but became New York’s first prison dedicated entirely to solitary confinement in  1991.  The  budget  to  operate this supermax is almost $39 million per year. Southport currently incarcerates about 400 people in solitary in the SHU. Beyond the already racially disproportionate infliction of solitary across prisons statewide, nearly 90% of people in the SHU at Southport are Black (62%) or Latino (27%), while only 2% of Correctional Officers (COs) at Southport are Black (1.4%) or Latino (0.7%). Even more extreme, and reflective of the deeply ingrained racism of the prison system, of all people who were held at Southport for the entirety of 2015, 76% of all the people who were held at Southport in 2015 were Black.

The Correctional Association of New York (CA) conducted  a  full  monitoring  visit  of  Southport  in February 2015 and further investigations of Southport in 2015 and 2016. During the 2015 visit, the CA spoke one-on-one with nearly every person in the SHU while we were there. The CA subsequently received over 190 written surveys from people in Southport’s SHU, had repeated correspondence with numerous people incarcerated at Southport, conducted extensive interviews in 2015 and 2016 with nearly 50 people held in the SHU at Southport, and analyzed prison-specific and system-wide data. To even begin to have some understanding of the real experience of solitary at Southport requires learning directly from the people who are living in solitary the details of what they are enduring. The narratives  in this publication provide representative examples of the experiences of the hundreds of people the CA communicated with at Southport. In this broadcast of “On the Count,” listeners were given a brief but intense account of what “Solitary at Southport,” and many, many other prisons, subject human beings to on a daily basis.

Listen to the broadcast here.