Chelsea Manning Threatened With Indefinite Solitary Confinement For Expired Toothpaste & Having A Copy Of Vanity Fair

from the really-now? dept

The way the US treats prisoners is often barbaric. The UN has repeatedly highlighted how solitary confinement is a form of torture that should be stopped, but the US regularly uses it on its massive prison population (largest prison population in the world! Go USA!). And even if you don't think it's torture, you should at least recognize that people are thrown in solitary confinement for ridiculous reasons -- such as looking at Facebook. Or, apparently, having expired toothpaste in your cell.

It appears that Chelsea Manning is now facing indefinite solitary confinment for a short list of "infractions" which include having expired toothpaste ("medicine misuse") and having a copy of the Caitlyn Jenner issue of Vanity Fair, along with some other magazines ("prohibited property"). The other two charges may seem slightly less crazy, but not when you look at the details. They are for "disrespect" and "disorderly conduct," but the "disorderly conduct" was for apparently sweeping some food on the floor during a dinner, and the "disorderly conduct" was for asking for a lawyer when Manning was being yelled at over the food incident.
There's a hearing about this on August 18th, and Fight for the Future has set up a petition about this to call more attention to the way Manning has been treated. As the petition says, it's clear that Manning is being "singled out and punished for speaking out." Even if you don't think Manning's actions in leaking State Department cables was just, hopefully you can recognize that indefinite solitary confinement over such minor charges is ridiculous.

Filed Under: chelsea manning, prisons, solitary confinement, toothpaste, torture, vanity fair

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Aug 2015 @ 9:55am

    Military Prisons

    Just so that everyone understands, Manning is in a maximum security military prison. Military prisons are notorious for their strictness and discipline. Fundamentally, it is much like being in basic training, EVERY DAY.

    Further, it should be understood that every one of the charges against Manning are charges that you would routinely see in basic training, though in basic training such charges would only rarely get a person sent to the stockade. More routinely, such charges would cause a trainee to be set back two weeks, so they would have to repeat two weeks of training.

    However, I have heard of circumstances where a very few individuals kept getting set back to the end of week 2 of basic training, for months. I never personally met one of these people, and it could be that these were rumors meant to scare other trainees, but if it was true, you could theoretically be stuck in weeks 3 and 4 of basic training for an entire enlistment of four years. Frankly, that would be worse than prison.

    The charges against Manning likely seem petty to a civilian, and they are. However, the military is big on the whole discipline thing. People are punished until they conform to what seems like arbitrary standards.

    As a side note, we tried very hard in basic training to conform, and the military often cheated. One thing that would get a recruit on report is having an "Inspected by" tag in their clothing. We went through every person's clothing, one item at a time, multiple times, to ensure the tags were gone. The tags kept reappearing. That's when we realized that the tags were being planted intentionally. Fundamentally, if you are not breaking the rules, the military will break them for you.

    A civilian probably wonders why would anyone cause someone to appear to break the rules. It all comes back to discipline. The military drills discipline and conformism into recruits heads, day in and day out. Lapses of discipline are punished as examples for everyone else, and if the lapses do not exist, they are made up intentionally. The only good thing is that the planted lapses were typically spread around so that one person was not usually singled out.

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