Posts Tagged ‘human rights’
Caleb Smith’s The Prison and the American Imagination is a study of incarceration and the dehumanizing loss of freedom as an inherent part of being an American. Smith references political as well as literary texts in his argument.
The Prison and the American Imagination is available to purchase from Amazon.
Scott Langley, photojournalist and human rights activist, put together a series of photographs over eight years that he called the “Death Penalty Photography Documentary Project.” Here are a couple images below. Check out the website
for more galleries.
This is the prison version of the music video for Michael Jackson’s “The Don’t Care About Us” in which stock footage of historic civil and human rights violence are juxtaposed with images of Jackson, a prisoner, in a cafeteria filled with prisoners banging their fists and chanting along with him. The video begins with school girls singing the lyrics behind a wired fence and ends with images of Jackson running up steps in an ally, not in prison. Jackson chooses lyrics that apply to a vast group of people instead of focusing on his own personal experiences suggesting a general mistreatment of all people by the powers that be.
ABC News published a story last week about Nataliya Magnitskaya, mother of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who recently died in Butyrskaya prison in Moscow at the age of 37. During his 11 month imprisonment leading up to his deal, Magnitsky suffered from acute pancreatitis that went neglectfully untreated by any medical staff. Further adding to his difficulties, mail and parcels including medicine took 2-4 months to reach Magnitsky even though they were sent from his home situated close to the prison. For on 10 day stretch of time, Magnitsky was kept in a prison cell with an open window in freezing conditions. The Butyrskaya prison admits guilt, but Magnitsky’s mother, who learned of her son’s mistreatment through consistent letters throughout his stay, fears nothing will be done about her son’s unfair and brutal treatment that ultimately led him to his death.
News of the conditions in a modern day Russian prison are saddening however are not met with surprise. In his 2000 documentary, The Mark of Caïn, Alix Lambert delves deep into the Russian prison system revealing many inhumane aspects of these prisons. One sees cells so overpopulated that prisoners must take turns sleeping, sitting, and standing due to lack of space. He also reveals the intricate system of prison roles and tattoos.
Momlogic has posted an article about the inhumane treatment of pregnant women in prison. Prisons are not legally obligated to provide prenatal care or proper nutrition to their pregnant inmates. Women in labor are reportedly chained to hospital beds and only given 12 hours with their newborns before being forced to hand them off to relatives. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the United Nations have condemned the shackling of women during labor.
Malika Saada Saar, executive director of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, claims that the majority of these women are in prison for non-violent or drug-related crimes. The female prison population has risen 432% over the past 25 years due to mandatory sentences for drug-related crimes.
In a series of lectures, this book addresses the shifts in US policy that have occurred post-9/11 in dealing with international and domestic law, politics, human rights, prisons, and prisoner treatment. Davis discusses her own past as a former prisoner and “enemy of the state” as well as the impact that racial legacies have on our current prison system and state of democracy. What responsibility does the U.S. have as the world’s leading democracy to take accountability for abuses of power that occur in our prison system?