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#EndSolitaryRI Campaign Announcements!

endsolitaryri

We are uniting a range of experiences, expertise, and personal backgrounds around a campaign to end the use of solitary confinement (“disciplinary confinement” or “segregation”) in the Rhode Island detention centers and the prison/jail.

The effects of segregation and solitary confinement are profound: many people experience extreme mental and physical health effects while in segregation. The practice is very expensive and associated with higher recidivism rates. This local campaign builds upon our people’s histories of grassroots activism and decisive Federal action and pressure to end this horrific practice. In Black and Pink’s national survey, Coming Out of Concrete Closets, ending solitary confinement was identified as one of Black and Pink inside members’ immediate goals in our fight to abolish prisons. This call inspired Black and Pink Providence inside members and free world allies to push for this in Rhode Island.

What is Solitary Confinement?

“Solitary confinement is the practice of isolating prisoners in closed cells for 22-24 hours a day, virtually free of human contact, for periods of time ranging from days to decades….Solitary confinement cells generally measure from 6 x 9 to 8 x 10 feet (smaller than a parking space). Some have bars, but more often they have solid metal doors. Meals generally come through slots in these doors, as do any communications with prison staff. Within these cells, people live lives of enforced idleness, denied the opportunity to work or attend prison programming, and sometimes banned from having televisions, radios, art supplies, and even reading materials in their cells.” – Solitary Watch FAQ

What’s going on in RI?

There is a current bill (2016-H 7481) that is being proposed in the Rhode Island State House – more info on this bill and it’s introduction available on here. This bill is modeled on a recently introduced New York bill that limits the use of solitary confinement, creates therapeutic alternatives for people with mental illness, and prevents certain classes of people from being placed in solitary. We note that this bill is an important starting point for limiting the use of solitary confinement, especially for people with physical disabilities, mental illness, younger and older populations, and LGBTQ people. We hope this bill can be a tool for us in our immediate goal to reduce harm and ultimate goal to end solitary confinement in Rhode Island.

What can I do to help #EndSolitaryRI?

The short-term goal of the #EndSolitaryRI Coalition is to strategize around the recently introduced legislation.

  • Testify at or attend the bill’s hearing time/date TBD at the State House in March. Please contact us if you may be interested in testifying so we can prep together.
  • Follow facebook.com/BlackandPinkPVD or email EndSolitaryRI@gmail.com to get updates about future actions, including the announcement of the bill’s hearing date.
  • Spread the word and gather stories – the lives of currently and formerly incarcerated people drive our fight!
  • Donate – Donations will be used to fund future actions for #EndSolitaryRI. Money may also be used by Black and Pink PVD to support our incarcerated and formerly incarcerated LGBTQI members in RI.

For times and places of meetings, and/or to share your own stories or the stories of your friends and family,

follow facebook.com/BlackandPinkPVD, email EndSolitaryRI@gmail.com, or write to:        

#EndSolitaryRI
c/o Black and Pink
PO Box 29444
Providence, RI
02909

 

Read Rhode Island Black and Pink inside members’ experiences with disciplinary segregation at the ACI (Adult Correctional Institute in Cranston, RI) below –

“When we go to High Security for being a problem, the administration doesn’t help you, [they] just lock you in a cell 23 hours a day, there’s no room for change. So when you go to a lower security you’re the same person you were or you’re worse because there was no one to help you with your problems.”

“The disciplinary infractions that are given to prisoners for the most part are not violent! Yes, fights happen, okay. But to lock a man down for 23/24 hours a day for passing food, newspapers, books, pictures, etc. is crazy…The COs are not trained to care for prisoners with mental health issues, and their response to abnormal behavior only exacerbates the situations that arise due to prisoner mental health disabilities. Thus, prisoners find themselves being punished for their mental health issues and inability to cope with stress-filled, oppressive environments. To prisoners like myself, this is just a continuation of childhood neglect and oppression. It’s wholesale mental slaughter, and if you’re LGBTQ, stay in the closet.”

“This institution locks people in solitary for non-problematic reasons, like if you identify as LGBTQ, if you put lawsuits in, or you’re known for always having black literature or anything that talks bad about the government (political views), they tend to throw you in solitary for long periods of time.”

“The mental health help sucks and the adverse effects of 23/24 hour lockdown on one’s mental state is life altering. I’ve seen prisoners go insane, eat shit, drink piss, cut themselves, stick pens down the head of their dicks, radios in their ass, swallow pens, batteries, talk to themselves all day and night, attack prisoners and COs for no reason, many are paranoid, others suffer from PTSD (like myself), bi-polar, behavior disorders, ADHD, depression, etc. etc. etc…

“The way discipline is practiced in solitary is cruel and unusual. In high security they give you years in segregation. [Corrections Officers] have sprayed me with pepper spray multiple times and shot me with a pepper ball gun for writing them up. I seen others get sprayed with pepper spray for no reason.”

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