Oh, boo hoo hoo.Contrary to what weekend marathons of “Lockup: RAW!” would have you believe, prison is not just a hep and happenin’ place to meet the future same-sex lover you will eventually abandon once your bid is up. It is, in fact, a rather unpleasant place to spend one’s time, scientician research has shown, especially when all of your time ends up being in solitary confinement for, oh, like decades at a stretch. In America, where “cruel and unusual punishment” is a cornerstone of our governing Articles of Confederation, solitary confinement is widely considered salutary for the small-c constitution. In other countries, though, whose Big-C Constitutions don’t even contain the phrase “cruel and unusual punishment,” indeterminate stretches of isolation from other life forms are frowned upon, on prissy humanitarian grounds. So now our more fragile and delicate indefinite detainees in California are actually begging non-Americans to come and save them from their countrymen. Wipe that tear from your eagle’s eye and join us after the jump.

Okay, okay. Truth be told, these complainy West Coast prisoners are kind of making us look horrible:

An attorney for hundreds of California inmates held in solitary confinement in the nation’s largest prison system because of their gang ties said Tuesday that he will petition the United Nations to intervene to stop the practice and launch an investigation into their living conditions and mental and physical health.

The petition, which asks the international body to allow an independent party to interview prisoners and review their medical files, comes after about 6,000 inmates at 13 prisons statewide went on a hunger strike last summer. They have since staged smaller and more intermittent strikes to protest what they call inhumane and torturous conditions in the so-called segregation housing units, or SHUs.


“It’s one thing to place a person into solitary segregation because they’ve assaulted another prisoner or threatened another person with violence. We’re not arguing with that,” [Peter Schey, executive director of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law] said. “What we’re arguing is the vast majority of people… are being put in solitary and the key thrown away merely because they’re alleged to be a gang member or maybe even just an associate of a gang member. The punishment is barbaric compared to the allegations.”

But a hunger strike is essentially a diet, no? [San Jose Mercury News]

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  • chascates


  • Ohno! No One World Order for us! Keep the UN out of America and in NYC, where it belongs!

  • Barb

    Wonder what gang Rod Blagojevich is going to try to start up in prison? Hair Club for men?

    • I suspect he'll be forced encouraged to join the skinheads.

    • PubOption

      According to one of the local St Louis news programs, Blago will not be allowed hair dye in prison, because it could change his appearance. So I suspect he will be making his own from whatever he can find, and selling any he has left over. "This dye is fucking valuable, it'll cost you more than a few lousy cigarettes".

      • Barb

        Very funny PubOption! He'll be a gray hair nest of douchbaggery.

      • Man0nTheStreet

        What available material will Blago use to get that rich, deep Brown color?

        • Biff

          Can santorum be properly produced without lube? I don't think lube is allowed in prison.

      • Terry

        Sort of like when the prison officials confiscated Trafficant's wig.

        What is it about midwestern politicians and their hair?

    • Biff

      If there's any justice in this world, John Edwards will be his VeePee.

  • I am in a bicycle gang, but I am not in prison or jail or anything like that.

  • freakishlywrong

    Thank you, Banana Republicans.

  • OC_Surf_Serf

    Fun Fact: A 'street-gang' member wears a hoodie but a white gang member just wears a hood.

    • Sue4466

      Which one can be shot without criminal penalty in the state of Florida?

      • Biff

        Sounds like a trick question to me, considering who the law was written for.

  • memzilla

    "…segregation housing units, or SHUs."

    Of course, the wingtard equivalent of "segregation housing unit" is called "Mom's basement."

    • Biff

      Our Editrix has a basement?

  • Grief_Lessons

    Be careful what you wish for, inmates. If the system is prevented from putting you in solitary confinement then it will probably just find a pretense to execute you, instead.

  • neiltheblaze

    Them scienticians think they're so smart.

  • Are we to be deprived of the sound of the men working on the chain gang?

  • Biel_ze_Bubba

    Can't be in a gang if the gang ain't around. Being locked up in solitary also prevents prisoners from plotting hunger strikes and petitioning the UN, so clearly we need more of it.

  • Ruhe

    Behind the scenes UN reply: "Man, the whole point of the UN is to try to manage for the rest of the world to survive despite America's fucked-up shit. We ain't touching that."

  • JackDempsey1

    If they end solitary confinement, where are all the wonkette pageviews gonna come from?

  • skoalrebel

    Hey, if you can't stand solitary, maybe you bore others, too. [spit!]

  • U! S! Aaaaa!!! U! S! Aaaaa!111!!!

  • Doktor StrangeZoom

    The Founding Fathers never intended bad people to have rights! If they had, you'd think it would be in the Bible, and I know for a a fact it isn't.

    • Chichikovovich

      I'm glad you pointed this out, because it is frequently misunderstood. People point to the Good Samaritan story as suggesting that gang members and even scummy foreigners are to be treated as worthy of God's grace, but really in context the Samaritans weren't all that foreign or despised: They were sort of like the Holy Land's version of Australians – Un-American, of course, but for the most part white, English-speaking acceptable company.

      Gang members and the wrong kind of foreigner are from a Biblical/Founding Fatherical point of view like the Canaanites and the Amalekites: deserving only of total merciless slaughter of every man, woman, child, cow and camel. Lifetime solitary confinement is actually merciful against this background.

  • prommie

    Other countries also routinely release prisoners who become old and disabled or are terminally ill, what with them being helpless, it is thought that further confinement is pointless. But here in the US, we keep crippled old senile people in prison until they die, because, fuck them. We love to inflict pain, us Amurricans.

    • Doktor StrangeZoom

      That, or we put them in Congress.

  • OC_Surf_Serf

    Solitary confinement

    So you masturbate like 458 times…but then what do you do on the second day?

  • "scientician "

    Kaia your portmanteaus are adorable. Like when my young nephew observed Mumbletycompanion's recently printed & framed shot of an osprey and asked, "Oh, are you a photographist?"

    OT but, at times the neologism stuff gets tedious. I checked out a web page for an "education startup" which ran a video of spoken-moment soundbites from various team personnel — they kept throwing out these words like "throughput" (rather than 'input' or 'output') and "performant" (some adjective, meaning — performing well, or not?) — to the point I wanted to take a page from our xenophobic brethren and yell at the screen "In English — REAL English!!"

  • Wait, what is this about? Prisons? As soon as I saw "John Bolton" at the tippy top of the post, I fell backward in my chair from a massive eye-roll.

    (Interesting prison book: Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing by Ted Conover.)

  • Sue4466

    There's a reason other countries no longer look to the US for human rights standards or model constitutional protections. We've been overtaken by less mean spirited countries with more progressive values.

    Go USA! Go USA!

    • hagajim

      So the way we treat people has gone the way of our edumucation system and our health care system, and about every other fucking system….good thing we still have the big #1 foam fingers so we can continue to convince ourselves.

      • Sue4466

        Yes, thank American Jebus for foam fingers. We're #1!

  • When the UN/FEMA army is knocking at your door and takes away all your transfat laden snack foods, forces you to take in stray cats, removes your incandescent light bulbs and slaps a "COEXIST" bumper sticker on your "hybrid", don't say you weren't warned.

  • BarackMyWorld

    Prison is a terrible place on purpose so it'll serve as a crime deterrent. That's why our crime rate is almost 0.

  • FakaktaSouth

    Who could have known that for profit private prisons would result in terrible treatment and need to be monitored by those without a financial interest? Prisoners go in and never come out. You can't explain it.

  • SHUs? SHU fly pie? Not all inmates have a Greta "I van't to be alone" Garbo complex??

  • Man0nTheStreet

    I've thought the UN should monitor US Federal elections since 2000…

  • Arken

    Welp, time to get my gun and shoot anyone who I suspect of working for the UN…

  • U.N.? Human rights? Gang members? It's like I woke up in hell. Where's the clicky, I need me some Fox.

  • dadanarchist

    While the UN is here, perhaps they can send some election monitors as well?

  • Ducksworthy

    I have never been prouder to be an Amurikkan! Oh wait, yes I have. When I was 12.

  • Steverino247

    Psychology 101: Punishment does not work to modify behavior in the way you want. All this shit does is make assholes (which is why they are in prison) into really angry assholes, which we don't need on the streets when their terms are up. Charlie Manson was a product of the juvenile correction system. Obviously, he wasn't corrected.

    We should B.F. Skinner their asses 24/7 so when they get out, they're looking for bars to press to get pellets after displaying superstitious behaviors (such as circling the bar with their heads and pressing the bar with their off hand) for our amusement.

  • ttommyunger

    Personally, I think I would request solitary confinement, if locked up.

  • Naked_Bunny

    Glad they'll be monitoring our bike paths.

  • ExecutorElassus

    I like the part where a commentor on the linked page advocates the death penalty for any gang member convicted of any crime. Ken Layne, can I come out to your desert commune to get away from the crazy?

  • Negropolis

    Yeah, but most of those in solitary are blah, so…meh.

    But, seriously, we have an incredible blindspot when it comes to human rights abuses when it concerns people of color. We believe that these things don't happen, and because of that they "don't." And by that I mean that they happen, but we actively refuse to see it.

    I think that's one of the more scary things about the United States…and other empires that have declined into oblivion over time. We are so technologically advanced and so self-sure about our morality that when destruction is staring us in the face, we can't and won't see it.

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