Citizens Call For an End to Solitary Confinement in Illinois

From: Uptown People’s Law Center

Protest Rally will be held  7/23, 2015 at the Thompson Center (Clark & Randolph)

CHICAGO, IL —  Last week, President Obama talked about solitary confinement, saying “The social science shows” that it is “more likely to make inmates more alienated, more hostile, potentially more violent.” He wondered, “Do we really think it makes sense to lock so many people alone in tiny cells for 23 hours a day for months, sometime for years at a time? That is not going to make us safer.” Concerned community members, survivors of solitary confinement, and family members of prisoners in solitary will rally on July 23 to say that solitary confinement is torture and must not be used. Organizations represented will include Uptown People’s Law Center, Illinois Coalition Against Torture, United Voices for Prisoners, and Black & Pink Chicago.

The protest will begin at the Thompson Center, with a rally and speakers. Then the group will march to Federal Plaza, to speak out against the opening of a new federal supermax prison in Illinois, Thomson Correctional Center, with 1,500 solitary cells.

“‘The law’ is breaking the law,” says Latonia Walker, whose brother is in solitary confinement at Stateville Correctional Center. “The Department of Corrections needs to be held accountable. Solitary confinement should only be used briefly, in extreme cases, for the individual to get the help they need.”

Last month, Uptown People’s Law Center and Winston & Strawn LLP filed a class action lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Corrections regarding its overuse and misuse of solitary confinement. The suit demands that the department comply with the American Bar Association’s standards.

“The state of Illinois puts too many people into solitary, and for petty reasons. The conditions there are appalling and unconstitutional, and we leave people in there for too long. Worst of all, Illinois’ excessive use of solitary doesn’t make our prisons safer, doesn’t protect staff, and does nothing to protect the public,” says Alan Mills, Executive Director of Uptown People’s Law Center.

A United Nations expert on torture has called on all countries to ban the solitary confinement of prisoners, stating that solitary confinement for longer than 15 days amounts to torture.

Thursday 7/23
5:15 PM – Thompson Center (Clark & Randolph) – Rally against solitary confinement in Illinois
6 PM – March to Federal Plaza (Dearborn & Adams) – Rally against the Thomson federal supermax prison, set to open in Illinois in 2015

Life-size makeshift solitary confinement cell. Speakers include survivors of solitary, family members of prisoners in solitary, and people reading testimonies from prisoners currently in solitary confinement.

The Facebook event currently shows over 300 people attending.