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Voices from the Box: A Call to End the Torture of Isolated Confinement

In this program, we focus on the plight of prisoners and detainees in New York State held in isolated confinement, where people are contained in a cell for 22 to 24 hours a day. That confinement has been found to be both inhumane and unconstitutional. The United Nations has deemed anything more than 15 days in isolated confinement as torture. The goal of the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC) is sweeping reform of New York’s use of solitary confinement and other forms of extreme isolation in state prisons and local jails. Despite these facts, New York uses isolated confinement at rates well above the national average.

Our guests include Serena Liguori, Herstory Writers Workshop co-executive director, who has been instrumental in designing story-based strategies for justice reform; Megan Crowe-Rothstein, director of social work at the Urban Justice Center Mental Health Project and a member of the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC); Claire Deroche, an activist and member of CAIC and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), and Amol Sinha, director of the Suffolk County chapter of the NYCLU. Our host is Silvia Heredia of Herstory Writers Workshop.

Herstory’s work to end isolated confinement is funded by Long Island Unitarian Universalist Fund and Long Island Community Foundation

A Fight for Sanity In a Cell /A Woman’s Perspective

Serena Liguori takes our listeners to meet a young woman in 23-hour lock as part of her job’s monitoring access to prisons and then further into Serena’s own memory of her first days and months of 23-hour lock/protective custody, as a young girl made to dress and use the bathroom in front of predominantly male correctional officers. In a space where storytellers and activists meet, she shares the ache of knowing the deep pain of isolated confinement as she interviews a young woman whose desperate eyes haunt her memory. Megan Crowe-Rothstein speaks of the tremendous impact that personal story has and how her own work with a young man in isolated confinement changed her life and perspective forever. Claire de Roche shares the historical origination of isolated confinement.

An Activists Perception

Amol Sinha shares the role of the NYLCU in creating awareness around the torture of isolated confinement. Megan, Claire, Serena and Amol continue to share the world of activism and what is being done to change the system. Each guest begins to share their own experience with victims of isolated confinement.

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