Juan Mendez, the United Nation's special rapporteur (reporter) on torture, its lead torture investigator, says that he is worried about increased use of solitary confinement in United States' prisons and wants access to California lockups. On Friday in the Los Angeles Times, he called for greater scrutiny of prison systems that routinely put prisoners in solitary confinement.
According to experts, California presently has some 10,000 prisoners in isolation cells, where prisoners connected to a gang can be held for decades or indefinitely. During the summer, the practice sparked a 60-day prison hunger strike.
Mendez said he has agreed to investigate the cases of prisoners kept in California's isolation cells, to make sure they are being treated according to international law. In May, he asked to inspect the state's prisons, but his request must be cleared by both the U.S. State Department and Gov. Jerry Brown. Mendez said he has had no response and a spokeswoman for the State Department confirmed the request.
Mendez raised concern about any policy that keeps prisoners in their cells more than 22 hours a day with little social contact, for months or for years. He said that solitary confinement should be used for only the most serious infractions, with safeguards in place that allow independent review. Isolation should be unrelated to the crime for which an inmate was sentenced and it should never be used as a means to carry out a sentence or for mentally ill prisoners.
Can the UN be trusted? Cholera may have been re-introduced into Haiti by Nepalese UN peacekeepers. See: http://www.examiner.com/article/cholera-may-have-been-re-introduced-into-haiti-by-nepalese-un-peacekeepers
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