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Sarah Lazare – The Scandal of Chemical Weapons in U.S. Prisons

Originally launched as a tool of trench combat during World War I, tear gas has been used around the world over the past century to enforce colonial rule, quell popular protests and aid in ethnic cleansing of civilians. This “riot control agent” was banned as a “method of war” by the Chemical Weapons Convention, an arms control treaty that went …

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Progressive Commentary Hour – 08.16.16

Danny Sheehan is one of our nation’s most important and influential Constitutional and public interest lawyers. During the past 45 years he has handled such public interest cases as the Pentagon Papers, the Watergate Break In, Iran Contra and the Silkwood murder case. He has represented victims of he Three Mile Island nuclear disaster and fought against the American Nazi Party on hate crimes. He is the founder of the Christic Institute and the Romero Institute, the latter being a nonprofit public policy center in Santa Cruz California. Danny has his law degree from Harvard University and later returned to study at the Harvard Divinity School.. He is the author of “The People’s Advocate: The Life and Legal History of America’s Most Fearless Public Defense Lawyer,” And his websites are DanielPSheehan.com AND RomeroInstitute.org

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Nika Knight – Revealed: Private Federal Prisons More Abusive and Violent

Private federal prisons are more abusive, violent, and dangerous than their government-run counterparts, according to a frightening report published this week by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General. “Federal officials should be reconsidering their alliance on private prisons and developing plans to begin cancelling these contracts, rather than continuing this experiment.” —Carl Takei, ACLUThe report [pdf], which examined …

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Black Agenda Radio – 09.07.15

– The number of inmates in solitary confinement in California’s prisons should be sharply reduced following settlement of a suit brought by prisoners. California leads the nation in the number of inmates held in solitary confinement, with nearly 3,000 prisoners languishing in isolation. The Center for Constitutional Rights represented the inmates in court. We spoke with the Center’s deputy legal director, Alexi Agathocleous.

– Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser was shouted down by protesters when she announced draconian proposals that would target each of the city’s 10,000 people on parole or probation for surprise searches by police, on the street or in their homes, night or day. Ex-offender found to be in violation of any of a long list of rules, could be detained for 72 hours, and then put on a path back to prison. Mayor Bowser claims she’s just responding to a rising homicide rate.

– Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is an activist with the Hands Up Coalition-DC and an editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report. She calls Mayor Bowser’s plan The Fugitive Slave Act of 2015.

– Ajamu Baraka is also an editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report. Baraka is a co-founder of the U.S. Human Rights Network. He currently lives in Colombia, South America, where he recently took part in a conference of the principal Afro-Colombian self-determinationist organization, the Black Communities Process, or PCN. Colombia is the United States’ closest ally in the region, and holds the world’s record for killing labor organizers. It is second only to Syria in the number of internally displaced persons, most of them Afro-Colombians driven from their traditional lands. Ajamu Baraka says Colombia is one of the most important countries in the African diaspora.

– An independent, Black-produced film on the Ferguson rebellion is making the rounds, this summer. We spoke with producer and director Ralph L. Crowder the Third about his latest documentary, titled, “Hands Up Don’t Shoot Our Youth Movement.”

– Resistance to standardized testing in the public schools is growing by leaps and bounds. Much of the momentum is centered in mostly white suburban districts, but more Black and brown parents are deciding to OPT their children OUT of the high-stakes testing regime. About 20 percent of New York state public school students opted out, in the past school year. Peter Farruggio is on the faculty of the University of Texas, Pan American campus. He’s a long-time educator and anti-privatization activist. We asked Dr. Farruggio if the Opt-Out campaign has gotten big enough to be called a movement.

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Andre Damon – The cover-up of torture in America’s prisons

Last week, the New York Times reported allegations that prison guards systematically tortured inmates at Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York following the high profile escape of two inmates. More than 60 prisoners filed complaints claiming that they suffered abuse, including beatings, stranglings and death threats. Most significant, however, was the apparent personal involvement of New York Governor Andrew …

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Deirdre Fulton – Crackdown on Manning Intensifies Days Before Confinement Hearing

Military prison authorities are allegedly denying whistleblower Chelsea Manning access to the facility’s legal library, just two days before a disciplinary board hearing that will decide whether she is placed in solitary confinement for what her supporters and lawyers say are innocuous offenses—like possession of a tube of expired toothpaste. As Common Dreams reported, the Chelsea Manning Support Network revealed …

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Sarah Lazare – Chelsea Manning Could Face Indefinite Solitary Confinement

Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, currently serving a 35-year sentence in military prison, now faces the possibility of indefinite solitary confinement for what her supporters and lawyers say are innocuous offenses—like possessing books and magazines related to LGBTQ issues and having expired toothpaste in her cell. The Chelsea Manning Support Network revealed Tuesday that prison authorities are using the trumped up …

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Sarah Lazare – Whistleblower Exposes Torture and Child Abuse at For-Profit Prison

A social worker formerly employed at a for-profit family immigrant detention center in Texas blew the whistle this week on the prison’s inhumane conditions—from solitary confinement to medical neglect—that she said amount to child abuse and torture. The Karnes County Residential Center is operated by GEO Group—the second largest private prison company in the country that has faced numerous accusations …

The Violence of Police Politics Posted By Steve Martinot

Insofar as the state, and the prison administration, know that solitary confinement drives people insane through isolation and torture, its use signifies that the state desires this outcome. That is a political desire, a desire to do irrevocable damage to people. It happens silently, as punishment for thinking autonomously, for self-respect against the violence of imprisonment, as a political stance. …

America’s Slave Empire By Chris Hedges

Three prisoners—Melvin Ray, James Pleasant and Robert Earl Council—who led work stoppages in Alabama prisons in January 2014 as part of the Free Alabama Movementhave spent the last 18 months in solitary confinement. Authorities, unnerved by the protests that engulfed three prisons in the state, as well as by videos and pictures of abusive conditions smuggled out by the movement, say …