You are currently browsing the daily archive for August 10, 2011.

I just keep posting about gender inequality, others say pfffff! what the heck I am talking about….

Until the idea that inequality exists and that it is a problem,then there really is not much to discuss now, is there?

The Panopticon come to life.

Prison is not supposed to be a walk in the beach.  I understand that.  People that commit offences need to be consequenced for their transgressions against what society deems to be the proper set of standards.  Consequences should not include psychological torture, self-mutilation and degradation.

“Supermax prisoners’ daily lives are chock full of alienating and undignified experiences, so empty of positive human interaction, thousands are willing to risk death than endure such inhumane conditions. That alone speaks volumes about the reality of life in supermax prisons.   

One of the most humiliating aspects of life for inmates are the frequent strip searches – forced to be naked, ordered to bend over by guards and spread the buttocks apart to have the anus inspected for contraband while coughing. Strip searches are the old normal. The photos of nude prisoners in Abu Ghraib in Iraq shocked the world, but to be stripped naked for hours or even days is standard operating procedure in supermaxes. 

Nelson explained: “Every time you leave your cell you’re strip searched … They do this to degrade and shock you…Sometimes the guards would make ‘homosexual’ comments like: ‘Hey baby, spread your cheeks’. Darrell Cannon, a survivor of a nine-year stretch in Tamms, described the strip search: ‘They tell you to open your mouth, raise your tongue, hold your hands up, they go through your fingers and toes and tell you to turn around and spread your cheeks up against the chuckhole … It’s degrading to have two other human beings looking at you like you’re some kind of specimen. It is extremely degrading.”

Conditions certainly look promising for an orderly transition back into society.

“Prisoners on suicide watch are routinely left naked in their cells. And inmates have been punished by “caging”, they’re held naked or partially clothed in outdoor holding cages in inclement weather. 

There is no pretence of rehabilitation in supermax prisons; the purpose is harsh punishment. Prisoners endure supersized portions of psychological punishment as a result of strict and prolonged solitary confinement. Inmates are confined for 23 to 24 hours a day, every day, in cells that measure 7-by-12 square feet. It is psychological torture.

Supermax prisons are intended to isolate prisoners and to deny human contact. Cannon said: “Everything you do, you do alone … It [supermax] was designed to break you mentally, by not allowing you to have another human being right there with you that you can interact with.”

This extreme environment of sensory deprivation and social seclusion makes men go mad. Supermax prisons are filled with inmates with mental illnesses diagnosed. Laurie “It is a form of insanity to put people in a place that provokes mental illness … Either they went in crazy, or they go crazy once they are there,” said Jo Reynolds, an organiser for the Tamms Ten Year Committee and a Soros Justice Fellow.”

Straight punishment does not fix people.  Remove the authority or system that is enforcing said strict punishment and old behaviours will return.  So much money is being spent on incarceration in the face of all we’ve learned about how human beings work.  We can build the supermax prison but can we build the services and support necessary to transition people back into society?  Hell no, we are just ‘coddling’ criminals then and appearing to be ‘soft’ on crime.


“Prisoners resort to cutting their flesh: A form of self-mutilation that results in thick scarring. Small shavings of concrete, plastic ‘sporks’ or paper clips are used to cut and cause bleeding to arms, legs and genitals. Cannon remembers some prisoners cutting themselves, “just to feel something … they were willing to do anything to get out of their cell and into the infirmary to be around other people”.

Nelson recalled an inmate who continually tightened a piece of string around his finger. It became gangrenous and was amputated. Men who injured themselves told him: “I need the pain, to feel real”.

“Gassing” is also common in supermax prisons. It is a word used to describe prisoners throwing urine and faeces at guards. Gassing is treated as a security threat and is met with excessive force by a tactical team.  

Prison mental health staff label inmates who engage in cutting and gassing as malingering and “acting out”, not as suffering from mental illness. And yet there is decades of indisputable, well-documented evidence that solitary confinement causes mental breakdown and self-injurious behaviour. 

Dr Terry A Kupers, a psychologist who has conducted hundreds of assessments of prisoners in supermax prisons, explained in an article in the Belleville News-Democrat. “Twenty-three hours a day alone in a cell causes many inmates to brutally attack themselves,” he wrote. “In the adult male population of the United States, self-mutilation occurs only in solitary confinement. It’s an epidemic across the country. They’re not faking.”

23 hours a day of solitary confinement?  The line between prison and torture-camp is blurring.

“Supermax prisons are modern, high-tech, taxpayer funded concentration camps. The architecture is a twisted blend of Fascist-Stripped-Classical and Functionalist designed to facilitate the One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest punishment of inmates. They are located in rural areas in small, conservative, majority white towns desperate for jobs. Pelican Bay was built on an abandoned logging site and is completely cut off from its surroundings. Tamms supermax is located in the far corner of Illinois in the village of Tamms, population: 724. The remote location of supermax prisons keeps them hidden and away from public scrutiny and protest. Media are not allowed in.

On the perimeter of supermax prisons loom large and imposing guard towers with gun turrets and floodlights that resemble German Flak towers.

The interior of supermax prisons is built on the architectural principles of isolation, surveillance and über-control. Doors and gates are controlled electronically. A panoptic central guard tower is encircled by prisoner “pods” and closed-circuit TV cameras allow guards to see into every cell. Privacy is nonexistent. Concrete cells contain a poured concrete bed, immovable concrete desk/stool, stainless steel sink, toilet and mirror. Metal wire mesh cell doors have a slot to deliver food and other items. Some doors have Plexiglas covers that insulate cells from sound, air and vision.”

Contemplating or threatening suicide? Well, well just add more restraints and there we have it, problem solved! (NSFW, violence and language)

To reiterate, yes prisons are necessary.  Torture and inhumane treatment is not if we want to honour the claim that we are civilized society.

*April 15th, 2012 Update* – Al Jazeera has continued the series on incarceration in the United States.

This Blog best viewed with Ad-Block and Firefox!

What is ad block? It is an application that, at your discretion blocks out advertising so you can browse the internet for content as opposed to ads. If you do not have it, get it here so you can enjoy my blog without the insidious advertising.

Like Privacy?

Change your Browser to Duck Duck Go.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,742 other followers

Progressive Bloggers


August 2011


Blogs I Follow

The DWR Community


A topnotch site

I Won't Take It

Life After an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

VictimFocus Blog

Exploring best practice and research in sexual violence. A loud voice in the fight against victim blaming. Written and Managed by Psychologist and Best Selling Author Dr Jessica Taylor

Unpolished XX

No product, no face paint. I am enough.

Volunteer petunia

Observations and analysis on survival, love and struggle


the feminist exhibition space at the university of alberta

Raising Orlando

About gender, identity, parenting and containing multitudes

REAL for women

Reflecting Equality in Australian Legislation for women

The Feminist Kitanu

Spreading the dangerous disease of radical feminism

Double Plus Good

The Evolution Will Not BeTelevised

la scapigliata

writer, doctor, wearer of many hats

Teach The Change

Teaching Artist/ Progressive Educator

Female Personhood

Identifying as female since the dawn of time.

Radfem Resources | Radical Feminist Literature

A virtual library for those interested in radical feminist literature and resources.

Not The News in Briefs

A blog by Helen Saxby


A blog in support of Helen Steel

Where media credibility has been reborn.


Memoirs of a Butch Lesbian


Radical Feminism Discourse

a sledge and crowbar

deconstructing identity and culture

The Radical Pen

Fighting For Female Liberation from Patriarchy


Politics, things that make you think, and recreational breaks

Easilyriled's Blog

cranky. joyful. radical. funny. feminist.

Nordic Model Now!

Movement for the Abolition of Prostitution

The WordPress C(h)ronicle

These are the best links shared by people working with WordPress


Gender is the Problem, Not the Solution


Peak Trans and other feminist topics

There Are So Many Things Wrong With This

if you don't like the news, make some of your own

Gentle Curiosity

Musing over important things. More questions than answers.


short commentaries, pretty pictures and strong opinions

Revive the Second Wave

gender-critical sex-negative intersectional radical feminism

Trans Animal Farm

The Trans Trend is Orwellian

Princess Henry of Wales

Priestess Belisama

miss guts.

just a girl on a journey

writing by renee

Trigger warning: feminism, women's rights


Happily Retired

%d bloggers like this: