Digest Post – Sunday 1/13/2013

By BitcoDavid


Truthout reports today, that the infamous supermax, Tamms, is officially closed.

The solitary confinement maximum security facility in Illinois closed on January 4th. DeafInPrison.com would like to thank Solitary Watch for alerting us to the story.

“There is not a single man left behind. The era of the notorious Tamms supermax prison is over,” reads the Facebook page of Tamms Year Ten, the activist group working to close the prison. “We are going through stages of relief, disbelief, celebration and reflection.” — Truthout

Among many roadblocks to the closure of America’s First Supermax, was a lawsuit by the Prison Guard’s Union. During its History however, the prison was scrutinized by the ACLU, independent activist organizations and even the United Nations. Tamms stood as proof that solitary confinement is torture.

Maybe they can do what Massachusetts did with Charles Street Jail, and convert it into an upscale hotel. What ever they do, Tamms certainly will not be missed.

Here’s Truthout’s coverage:




In an upcoming case, the SCOTUS  will take up the issue of  whether or not to reverse their decision allowing judges greater sentencing power. The 2002 ruling by the Court gave judges the ability to add time to mandatory minimum sentences, but said they could not exceed mandatory maximums.

The language in the new ruling – should it pass – would again enable juries to decide whether or not a convicted felon would have time added to her sentence.

The story came to us via the New York Times Op-Ed page. Here’s the link:


This will be an important ruling, because it will restore 6th amendment rights to the accused. A foundational tenet of the United States’ legal system is for the Government to do everything in its power to keep people out of prison – not the other way round. Living in a free society, we as citizens take a certain risk that not everyone will abide by the Social Contract. Those who don’t are punished, and this is as it should be. But when those essential safeguards against punishment are minimized, we all sacrifice our precious freedoms.



Kim Gilmore wrote an amazing piece for HistoryIsAWeapon.com, called Slavery and Prison – Understanding the Connections. I found 0ut about it from PrisonMovement’s Facebook Page. Albeit a long article, it’s a great read and very well cited.

In the past decade, several influential studies of this period have revealed the relationship between emancipation, the 13th Amendment, and the convict lease program (Lichtenstein, 1996a; Mancini, 1996; Davis, 1999). Built into the 13th Amendment was state authorization to use prison labor as a bridge between slavery and paid work. Slavery was abolished “except as a punishment for crime.” This stipulation provided the intellectual and legal mechanisms to enable the state to use “unfree” labor by leasing prisoners to local businesses and corporations desperate to rebuild the South’s infrastructure. During this period, white “Redeemers” — white planters, small farmers, and political leaders — set out to rebuild the pre-emancipation racial order by enacting laws that restricted black access to political representation and by creating Black Codes that, among other things, increased the penalties for crimes such as vagrancy, loitering, and public drunkenness (Davis, 2000). As African Americans continued the process of building schools, churches, and social organizations, and vigorously fought for political participation, a broad coalition of Redeemers used informal and state-sponsored forms of violence and repression to roll back the gains made during Reconstruction. Thus, mass imprisonment was employed as a means of coercing resistant freed slaves into becoming wage laborers. Prison populations soared during this period, enabling the state to play a critical role in mediating the brutal terms of negotiation between capitalism and the spectrum of unfree labor. The transition from slave-based agriculture to industrial economies thrust ex-slaves and “unskilled” laborers into new labor arrangements that left them vulnerable to depressed, resistant white workers or pushed them outside the labor market completely.

As I said, this is an extremely well written and extensively researched article, and is certainly worth a look. Here’s the link:



Lastly we have this. We have written extensively on the failed War on Drugs, and everybody knows of its massive number of victims on a global scale. But few may know of this:


The Washington Post reports that Mexican drug traffickers are practicing torture techniques on dogs. Patricia Ruiz runs an animal sanctuary in Mexico City which – through donations alone – has managed to shelter and provide aid to these helpless victims of this insane war. I viewed these pictures with tears in my eyes.


BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

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