Mothers Protest Inhumane Treatment of Sons in Supermax Prison
A group of mothers and sisters of inmates in an Illinois prison protested the conditions of the facility this week. Tamms Correctional Center in Chicago has been cited for inhumane treatment of its inmates, often locking them up for 24 hours a day with little or no breaks or interaction with others. Relatives were joined by past inmates of the prison and members of human rights advocacy groups for a press conference on Wednesday, following a legislative hearing on Governor Pat Quinn's plan to close the facility in order to save the state millions of dollars.
Showing support for this plan, family members spoke out about the inhumane treatment of inmates in the prison. One mother described her son's weight loss and slide into depression because of extreme isolation, while another spoke of her son's daily routine in order to stay active and sane, which involves walking in circles for hours around his windowless concrete cell. Many of the inmates in Tamms also have mental illnesses, on which solitary confinement is shown to have particularly damaging effects. Tens of thousands of the 2.3 million people currently incarcerated are forced into long-term solitary confinement within the U.S. prison system.
Patrice Warren, whose brother has been incarcerated in Tamms for over 6 years, said, "A lot of them are committing suicide. I don't want to lose my brother to the system like that."
According to a 2009 study by the Belleville News-Democrat, 54 Tamms inmates have been in solitary confinement for more than 10 years. The American Civil Liberties Union has called solitary confinement "inconsistent with human rights principles" and is calling for the closing of the Tamms facility.
The state commission is expected to make a decision on the prison's closure on May 11, though Quinn could close the facility regardless of its decision.
Media Resources: Chicago Times 4/5/12; Huffington Post 4/5/12; ACLU 4/2/12; CBS 4/4/12
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .