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“Solitary Confinement: The Prison Within the Prison” Nov. 11


Karen Howell

November 05, 2013

Carthage welcomes Margaret Winter, Associate Director of the ACLU National Prison Project, for a presentation titled “Solitary Confinement: The Prison Within the Prison” on Monday, Nov. 11. Ms. Winter will speak at 4:15 p.m. in the Campbell Student Union Auditorium. The entire campus is invited to this presentation, as we consider issues facing our judicial system at both the local and national level.

There are more prisoners in solitary confinement in the United States today than in any other nation in the world. Some spend years, even decades, in a tiny cell of concrete and steel with little or no contact with any other human being. The profound social isolation prisoners experience in solitary is compounded by extreme sensory deprivation, and complete loss of any contact with the natural world. Some of these prisoners are as young as 13 years old.

Prolonged solitary confinement causes agonizing psychic pain and over time results in mental illness, often ending with psychosis, self-mutilation, and attempted suicide. Recently, a national movement has begun questioning whether prolonged solitary ever serves any legitimate governmental purpose and seeks to ban solitary confinement, on the grounds that it constitutes torture in violation of international human rights norms and U.S. constitutional standards.

Margaret Winter is the Associate Director of the ACLU National Prison Project. She litigates class action lawsuits challenging inhumane conditions in prison and jail systems throughout the United States. She has argued and won a prisoner’s rights case before the US Supreme Court. She testified as an expert witness to the National Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons, the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, and the Los Angeles Citizens’ Commission on Violence in the County Jails.

In October 2013 she testified as an expert witness on solitary confinement at the first of a series of public hearings by the California state legislature to address the conditions in solitary that triggered the recent mass hunger-strike in the California prison system. The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, USA Today, Reuters, and other national media have covered her cases. She is an adjunct professor of law on prisoners’ rights litigation at Georgetown University Law Center.

A special thank you to the various constituencies on campus that are so generously cosponsoring Margaret Winter’s visit to Carthage: Social Science Division; Interdisciplinary Studies Division; Criminal Justice Program; Women and Gender Studies; Psychology Department; Philosophy Department; Hannibal Lecture Series; Amnesty International and Amnesty Student Leaders

For additional information, please contact Karen Howell, Executive Director of Community Development, 262-551-5858.