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California moves its solitary confinement laws into the 20th century

Pelican Bay “Special Housing Unit” Solitary confinement remains one of the most archaic punishments in the prison arsenal. Given the advances in our understanding of mental illness and penal rehabilitation over the last thirty years, it’s shocking that it has taken as long as it has for California penitentiaries to come to the conclusion that

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Can Obama set the US on the path to prison reform?

By Christopher Zoukis A few weeks ago I wrote about the passing of a landmark revision to the United Nations’ “Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.” In it, I questioned why the United States, a key player in the revision process, had remained so quiet since the announcement, positing that the silence was in

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What “The Mandela Rules” mean for American prisons.

By Christopher Zoukis For 55 years, the international community has used the “Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners” as a guideline to structuring their criminal justice and penal systems. The document had never been amended (aside from one additional rule in 1977), let alone revised, until this year. On May 22nd, the United

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Palestinian Committee Calls for Medical Monitors in Israeli Prisons

ByChristopher Zoukis On February 6, 2014, the Permanent Arab Commission on Human Rights called for a committee of medical monitors to be allowed into Israeli prisons and jails to review current conditions of confinement.  This call coincided with the recent close of the 35th session of the Commission in Cairo. As of October, 2013, Israel

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