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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  December 23, 2013 8:00am-9:01am PST

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12/23/13 12/23/13 >> from pacifica, this is democracy now! i am writing to david gilbert, a white imperialist ,olitical prisoner who is aging wonderfully, as everything else. i think he is a little over 70 now. today, we look and a growing
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number of aging political prisoners seeking release, from decades of solitary confinement into general population. we will speak with a former prisoner who visits many of the sick and elderly people behind ,ars, and with soffiyah elijah and attorney that has represented them. >> where is this man who is in shackles, in a locked room kind glass with two guards on the other side of the door going to go? to a guestalso speak about whether the longtime solitary confinement of individuals is cruel and unusual.
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and the number of aging men and women expected to die behind bars has skyrocketed. >> 33 years in a new york state prison. i served such a lengthy sentence. because i had not been rehabilitated, but because i was caught up in the system of perpetual punishment. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. has exposed a secret cia program in colombia that has helped to kill at least two dozen rebel leaders. the program relies on help from the national security agency and is funded through a multibillion dollar black budget each began under president bush but continues under president obama.
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up until 2010, the cia controlled the encryption keys that allowed homs to read gps data. the u.s.se, in 2008, and colombia discovered a farc leader hiding in ecuador. the attack killed the rebel leader and sparked a major flareup of tensions with ecuador and venezuela. the u.s. role in the attack had previously not been reported. we will do an extensive report on that tomorrow on democracy now! evacuated states has hundreds of people from fighting in south sudan on fear the country is on the brink of civil war. president obama warned he may take further action to secure
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persons and property. for u.s. troops were wounded saturday when the aircraft came under fire. meanwhile, the united nations mission has relocated its staff. coordinatornitarian tommy lands are described the situation there. >> the situation is very tense. we spent most of the day evacuating wounded, citizens of various countries. ,s we left for the airport there was a lot of looting, gunshots, a lot of dead bodies. very out of control youth. heavily armed.
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then need to be brought under control. >> the violence erupted earlier former deputyn a was accused of trying to mount a coup. two members of the feminist punk releasedt had been from prison in russia under amnesty conditions. due to be released within the next few months after serving most of their two year sentences. release,after her maria alyokhina denied the move as a stunt for public relations. >> now i would like to meet human rights activists and
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dealing with the issue of prison. i would like to engage in human rights activity. now i am not afraid of anything anymore, believe me. former most wealthy businessman was also released. he was jailed after financing prudent's opponent and was considered an opponent of conscience. in ukraine, 100,000 people for a fifth week in a row to call for the ousting of the president. the pro-eu demonstrators have been camping out for weeks in the independent square of kiev. antigovernment protests also continue in thailand after the main opposition party called for a boycott of elections. tens of thousands gathered to
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toss for yingluck shinawatra resign. her opponent accuses her of being the under the control of her brother, who is in self- imposed exile. in egypt, three leading activists have been sent to three years in prison. ahmed maher, ahmed douma, and themmed adel helped lead uprising that ousted hosni mubarak in 2011. david were the first to be sentenced under a new law that bans public protest by requiring --en different coat dish permits for permission to protest. in iraq, a high-ranking army commander and 17 other soldiers were killed on sunday during a raid.
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the raid took place in the border with syria. attacks in other parts of iraq killed 13 other people on saturday. in syria, at least 42 people were reportedly killed sunday as helicopters continue to bombard aleppo. at least six children were among the dead. helicopters had been dropping highly distracted barrel bombs, oil drums filled with explosives and sometimes filled with scrap metal. hundreds have been killed in the past month. today is the deadline for most americans to sign up for health insurance which starts in january 1 under the affordable care act. despite the rollout, obama claimed that over one million people had signed up in the first three weeks alone. >> more than one million americans have selected new
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health insurance plans through the federal and state marketplaces. ,ll told, millions of americans despite problems with the website, are now poised to be covered with quality health insurance come new year's day. >> the company responsible to building the healthcare.gov website has a history of other issues. according to "the washington executives from the has had cgi federal, instances of mishandling at least 20 other projects. couples rushed to get married ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. on sunday, an appeals court rejected a bid by the state to immediately halt weddings. the case is due back in court today.
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workersork, domestic and their advocates rallied across the indian consulate to protest and diplomats treatment of her housekeeper. the arrest of devyani khobragade , the indian counsel general in afterrk, created a spat complaints of how she was treated. >> we think people have lost sight of the root cause of the situation. , domestic worker was exploited and she was not treated in a way that any other employee or staff member would be treated. instead, she was treated as a piece of property. we are hoping that coming out here today we can change the conversation and have people focus more on the domestic worker and what she went through and push for justice to be served. has beeni khobragade
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transferred to a different post with united nations. canada has struck down restrictions on prostitution. prost duchenne is legal, but the brothelsthis limits and street prostitution. the court left the law in effect for a year to allow parliament to draft new regulations. mexico's president has signed an energy reform bill allowing foreign companies to drill for oil in mexico for the first time in 70 years. a recent poll showed more than two thirds of mexicans opposed opening up the gas and oil sector. president enrique pena nieto sign the ball -- signed the bill into law on sunday. mexico's increase
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energy security. we can exploit abundant deposits for the benefit of mexicans, which up till now, have not been profitable for pemex. party has vowed to undo the law through a referendum. chargein bangladesh at the owners of the garment factory for the death of workers and a fire there last year. guards,ers, security and others were also charged. all of them could face up to life in prison. lacked fire exits, leaving workers trapped. managers and security guards have been accused of instructing workers to get back to work after the fire started. a new report has found the obama administration has a history of flagrant violations at
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factories, including blocked exits. according to the new york times, the obama administration buys military items from countries with harsh conditions, including bangladesh and haiti. a colorado teenager shot by a classmate at a high school earlier this month has died. claire davis, who was 17 years old, had been in critical condition when she was shot by karl pierson, a fellow student who then shot himself to death. authorities believe he randomly targeted davis while seeking a librarian. illinois,in chicago, three people were killed and 15 wounded in a series of shootings this weekend, including one that killed an 18-year-old. those are some of the headlines. democracy now!,
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democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. is great to be here with you on the other side of the camera. helped to i have cover topics extensively as a producer, and that is the issue of political prisoners, here in the united states. it is now december and the holidays, a time of giving and compassion. often this time of year, we look at the clinical prisoners seeking clemency or pardon. today, we focus on a particular issue, the large number of aging political prisoners in the u.s. seeking release, or in some cases, seeking release out of solitary confinement into general population. these are largely people convicted of crimes in the 1960s and 1970s after their
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participation with organizations like the black panther party. many have poorly treated whilees, like diabetes, at least one has terminal cancer. this issue came up when i attended an event in brooklyn. people had gathered to sign holiday cards for political prisoners. am writing to david gilbert, who is a white european anti-imperialist political prisoner in new york state who is aging, wonderfully, as everything else. over, i believe, a little 70. my daughter made this card. david, as usual, mollie sue wanted to decorate the card, so you get another original this year. i am in between having
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a lot to say to you and not knowing what to say. here to see how tall mollie sue has grown. you are here in spirit. i just wish your spirit could enjoy eating the roasted vegetables and nuts. >> my name is betty davis. i am a member of the lynne stewart defense organization. were arrestede may 19, fighting to liberate south africa, liberty money from banks, and donating it to the south african cause, when these brothers and sisters were arrested, lynne was pulled along. many of those writing today were her clients. the name goes on and on. >> good afternoon.
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i see that you have another card regarding lynne stewart. card, dear,n the mr. president, time is running out. free lynne. we do not want to see a situation like that we saw with marilyn buck. nne has fought for people all her life who have been oppressed in this country and continue to be oppressed. >> my name is andrew. we are a collective providing support for u.s. political prisoners and prisoners of war. sayingto preface this by that one of his codefendants -- i am sure that your listeners know this. he died after enjoying only
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three days of prison. what i wrote was, for as hard as be equally as2014 great for your health and freedom in the coming year. been corresponding with albert for some time now, has he shared with you any of the challenges he has faced, from medical neglect, to being in solitary for decades? >> it has left him largely debilitated. it has had an effect on his mental health as well. it is hard to imagine living under artificial light for 23 hours a day for over 40 years. the strength of mind it takes to endure that is incredible. cassandra lizzaire, our , thank you forow
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the report. when we come back, we hold a roundtable discussion on the issue of aging political prisoners. we will be joined by two former prisoners, a lawyer that represents them, and a u.n. repertory who was himself a prisoner in argentina. democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. we will be back in a minute. ♪ {music break]
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>> "attica blues" by archie shepp. democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. joined by a number of guests, including soffiyah elijah.
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she won the release of marilyn buck in 2010 so that she can live her final weeks in freedom before she died from cancer. as thealso has a career executive director for the correctional. first i want to turn to a comment made by former u.s. andrew young. frenchter with a newspaper asked him about the treatment of political dissidents. young famously raise the issue of political prisoners here in the u.s. he said -- in reference to jailed civil rights and antiwar protesters. , definedelijah political prisoner for us to for
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we move on to the discussion. people who are incarcerated for their political activities and political views. some here in the u.s. have expanded definition to include people who went to prison for social crimes and who became politicized, and then their treatment, such as their continued denial of the lease or parole, was tied to their required political beliefs. what happened with marilyn buck, who she was, and how you got her out of prison. >> she had been labeled by the fbi as the sole and member of the black liberation army, originally from texas, became politicized in the bay area of california, was ultimately sentenced to 40 years in incarceration. during the time she was incarcerated, she helped many
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women with translation, a skilled spanish translator, but ultimately, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. as many who are victims of incarceration, she was suffering from medical neglect. i pulled out all the stops and went behind the scenes and ultimately was successful in getting her release 21 days before she died. >> i want to talk more about that process but first i want to get into the mindset of whom marilyn buck was, when she was originally sent to prison. this is her speaking from prison during an interview in 1989. she describes how she came to be involved in the black liberation struggle. in a period ofe revolution, when armed struggle
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was being successfully employed by the vietnamese. revolution was in latin america. che guevara was struggling in bolivia along with others that we know and do not know. learnedhe things that i in thet i really believe question of two or three vietnam's. the black liberation struggle was beginning to flower in this country, being getting today will -- being able to assert itself. being able to take on the state in certain kinds of way. from an unorganized level of insurrections in detroit and chicago, two more organized forms of struggle. one of the things that really impressed me was that when i met
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young men and women from the black panther party, and fighting for the liberation of their people, and not having the fear, but the moral and physical courage and knowledge that this was the right and just wait to go forward, impressed me a lot. that if i supported this process, i had to be willing to be able to engage in that. buckat was marilyn speaking in 1989 from prison. , i wanted to go back to that clip to talk about the time when she went in and to place who these people were when they being -- became political prisoners. then i wonder if you could talk about how your work getting her out relates to other political prisoners seeking release? maryland became politicized
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during the black liberation .ovement she was part of a larger movement of north american anti- imperialist who challenged issues of racism and capitalism in the u.s., and they also challenged u.s. foreign policy, like the war in vietnam. all of those factors helped to shape who she was. she was committed to antiracism, and she carried that strongly in all of her messages and activities. you know, she became more involved in the black liberation movement. she was accused by the fbi as being a person who purchased guns, produced false identification, in order to protect those targeted by the fbi, as they engaged in what was termed to be ultimately legal
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activity. of fbi targeted many members movements for free months, assassinations, and long periods of assassination. despite the odds, you were able to win her release. this relate to lynne stewart, another person who is prison?ated in federal she is also suffering from given 18d has been months to live by her oncologist. marilyn and lynne came from the same facility.
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there are a number of efforts and people who are calling for her release. this is a larger problem in our prison system, compassionate release and medical release. far too many people are suffering from medical neglect in our facilities. our society is not compassionate when it comes to how these people should be handled. >> a few months ago, i had the opportunity to interview michael tigar, who represented lynn stewart in 2010, when she was sentenced to 10 years in prison for releasing a press statement from her client sheikh omar abdel rahman. this is what michael tigar said. that thisows us prosecution was nonsense. prosecution involving
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releasing rhetoric about whether or not there should be a cease- fire between the islamic and non-islamic forces in egypt, whether there should be a prosecution about that and label it terrorism, is just nonsense. the speech in question cannot possibly be said to have had any adverse affect. that the rhetoric surrounded it all, none of it is pretty, inflammatory, but we have seen what has happened in egypt, and how the united states has once again screwed up by these interventions into the middle east. has pouredean power blood and treasure is into this area and not a single effort has succeeded. anderms of history, law
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history need to get in touch with one another, and understand themselves. there have been iconic trials that have reflected historical understanding. nuremberg was one of them. the trial about the french collaborator was one of them. this was not. was charged with having released to the media a statement by sheikh omar abdel rahman which asked for a reconsideration, not an ending, of the truce between islamist and non-islamist forces in egypt under the repressive regime of hosni mubarak,. . that is it. explain what was wrong with what the government that was wrong with lynne stewart. >> she agreed that she would
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not release anything that the sheikh said to the media. -- theook the position jury did not agree with her -- every other attorney thought these measures did not apply to disseminating political information that could lead to a for the shake to get transferred to egypt. the former attorney general of the u.s. said, on behalf of sheikh omar abdel rahman, who talked to stewart into getting into the case, had done far more in terms of getting his words out there and sharing them with people. was michael tigar, speaking about his former client lynne stewart.
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lynne stewart is dying from cancer in a texas prison. prison, her doctor in estimated her life expectancy at less than 18 months. so far her request for early release has been denied. renée, you got the latest on this case on friday. >> i spoke with her defense attorney. for submitted a new request beense, but she has since sitting, languishing. her attorney says she is getting weaker, day by day. it is not on her or her family. people are waiting for the bureau of prisons and department of justice to take the next steps. in jihad to bring abdulmumit, a member of the jericho movement.
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he is speaking to us from richmond, virginia. how many political prisoners would you say there are around the country? >> good morning, amy, and listeners. the jericho list has 66 prisoners. these particular members have been parts of liberation movements in the past. no doubt, there are hundreds now , particularly when you look at the war on terrorism against the muslim population, fabricated cases, conspiracy cases that means a hill of beans, really. hundreds.y there are on our particular list, those that have been attached to organizations and movements from the 1960s and 1970s, we have
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about 66. >> you visited many of these men and women in prison. i wanted to ask you specifically about one facing health challenges. robert said hays in new york. could you tell us who he is and the challenges he is facing? how long has he been inside? >> robert hayes was a member of the black panther party, black liberation party. he was convicted in 1974. go back to prisoners the 1970s, about 40 years ago. he is 65 years old, suffering from diabetes, which he has had for about 15 years. fromuating sugar levels 400, down to about 20, which is
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where he was about a few weeks ago, and it seemed like the jail authorities cannot get it right. we recently had a national to try tohat we do mobilize people across the nation to try to put pressure on the prison authorities so that he can get medical care. he has hepatitis and type 2 diabetes right now. he is supposed to go to the infirmary in january. this is only the result of many people calling in, putting pressure on the administration. their response to his diabetes is not to give him candy and cut down on sugar. there is no healthy diet to go along with that.
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they cannot get his insulin injections right. his fellow prisoners do look at him and see that he is getting , if not for them, would probably be dead now. 67 political prisoners around the country that the jericho movement monitors and six freedom for. --y people facing military medical challenges from being in solitary for a long printer of time, or, as you mentioned, just growing old. there are also those who have been in solitary confinement for decades, problems with eyesight for no exposure to natural light.
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herman wallace was released from prison after serving for two years in solitary confinement. longer than any other prisoners in the united states. before he passed away, he described the impact of solitary confinement on his body.
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>> that was herman wallace speaking from prison, recorded and aired in a film called "herman's house." herman wallace was released from prison after a federal judge in louisiana demanded he be released immediately, within hours, and two days later, he died of cancer. juan mendez is also with us.
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special rapporteur on treatment in prisons. now!me back to democracy talk about the effects of solitary confinement, and talk about how it is used in the united states. >> the medical literature is on the ethics of just social isolation on the way the mind operates. that effect can be as early as to 23s of being subjected hours a day of looking at a wall.
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i wrote a report to the viewer years ago to the united nations general assembly in which i tried to promote standards, first, prohibiting independent solitary confinement. it goes without saying, the anxiety of not knowing when it will end ads to the psychological mistreatment. also prohibiting solitary prolonged confinement. anything beyond 15 days should be considered prolonged and therefore banned. slightly longer-term, but measured in days, not in weeks or months, for conditions that are a little more moderate. maybe a couple of hours of social interaction a day. of course, for certain categories of prisons, there should be a complete ban for even a few hours.
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elderly,veniles, the pregnant women, women feeding young children, and particularly the mentally disabled. solitary confinement for those categories is just punitive and unreasonable and should be banned. applied, itw it is is applied all over the world in different settings and situations. my sense is it is also growing rather than diminishing. unfortunately, the united states set a bad example. tens of thousands of people in the u.s. are, on any given day, in solitary confinement. whether it is called that or given another name, like special administrative measures, isolation, segregation, the fact are, for atitions
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no socialours a day, interaction. >> you have people that have spent 42 years in solitary. you are talking about 15 days. >> those are some unusual conditions. usefulrt did find some practices of solitary confinement, but as long as it is not repeated and is used to address a specific situation. >> the number of people in solitary confinement in california? >> no one knows for sure, but the estimates i have seen are about 22,000 people in solitary confinement. >> which is why there was a hunger strike there this summer.
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>> that is right. i have been trying to visit prisons in california, new york state, and other areas. >> i want to ask you about a person that is largely considered a political prisoner, russell maroon shoatz. you have taken a look at his case. talk about how this came to your attention and what you found in the report. a daughter of mr. shoatz contacted me and gave me his information. i wrote to the u.s. government, we exchanged notes, and i published a report stating that the united dates was in violation of its international obligations by keeping him in
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solitary confinement. as far as i could tell, it was purely punitive in nature. i do not consider questions of clinical prisoners, because that is not my mandate. to politicallies offenders, common criminals, or to anybody. >> i want to put some background on mr. shoatz. matt meyer is also with us, previous coordinator of the nobel campaign. tocowrote the introduction "oscar lopez rivera: between torture and resistance." talk about the case of russell shoatz. talk about the background. >> it is important to realize whatever issues
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political or otherwise related to his conviction, the reason he is in solitary confinement is by ane he was elected official prison approved body to be the head of this lifers group. it was because he was seen, correctly, as a key organizer, that he was put into the whole -- hole. he was not put into solitary confinement initially once convicted. an immediate and direct reaction to his organizing work. he is currently in pennsylvania. there is some breaking news about the story for people to know. this last weekend -- and we are still getting information right now -- his lawyers are meeting with him via conference call. he learned that his attempts within the institution to get
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release from solitary into general population have been denied. this has happened before, where he has asked and requested, and in the last two months, the prison transferred him into a facility withonal the explicit and stated purpose to move him into general population. they have a program for that call the stepped-up program, a 60-day program which he began in september. every 20 days in the program, prisoners get review from the prison authorities. after 20 days, a very positive review. 40 days, again a positive review. after 60 days, in front of a committee,e review
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people said that you had done an amazing job, you have acted in good faith. we give you a thumbs up. now, on the verge of this holiday season, where people are supposed to be compassionate and thinking about peace on earth and goodwill to people, he found that just a day or so ago, the paperwork necessary to move him into general population was being denied. >> he has been in solitary confinement for -- consistently since 1991. over 20 years. there was a break because he was in solitary a few years before that. but this is persistent. 23 hours a day, seven days a week. >> juan mendez, you are the un's rapporteur. , federalthorities
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authorities, prison authorities, respond to you? case, they said that his solitary confinement was because of his past history of violence, having escaped prison and committing acts of violence. those are things that happened in the 1980s. , whatever was clear else he might have committed was included in his punishment, and solitary confinement then becomes tickly a punitive measure. that that ise right, the real reason may have been his organizing, but that is not what the u.s. government told me. they told me it was related to his crimes of violence. justifiable. that
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once you are convicted and sentenced to a prison term, there should not be additional punitive measures, especially not punitive measures that are so cruel and inhuman and isolation for as that many years. will talk about how other prisoners have sought release and faced challenges, and how this factors into the astronomical number of aging people behind bars who eventually die behind bars. before we go to break, matt myers, in a minute, i will ask you about another high profile political prisoner, oscar lopez rivera. briefly, who is he, what is the situation with seeking his release? ,> the most important thing
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especially in the context of such a fantastic show like this, of course, the u.s. government says there are no political prisoners, suite cannot take what they say on face value. his case is unique. here is a man who has been in jail, along with more than a dozen of his colleagues, since the early 1980s, and every single one of his colleagues are out. granted clemency by president clinton. and his campaign has been signed on for release by the highest levels of international humanitarians and puerto rican leadership. the entire nation of puerto rico is united in calling for his release. tutu,hbishop desmond
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among others. he was also included in the clemency that president clinton two others were not being previewed at the time, who have since been freed, but he is still in jail. >> there are no reasons, except for punitive ones, for him to still be behind bars. this issue for clemency has come up again and again. >> it is before president obama now? >> it ease, indeed. it is not just with the political -- it is, indeed. it is not just the case with political activists.
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when i was last in puerto rico, the head of the catholic church, was strongly in favor of his release. we just had a statement a week ago from the united church of , about their affirmation for his release. >> when we come back, we will looking atthe people the possibility of being released. go to our website to see some past coverage of oscar lopez rivera. we will be back in a minute. ♪ {music break]
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>> this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and
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peace report. i'm amy goodman. we look at how even a modest reduction in the prison menlation, the number of and women expected to die behind bars have skyrocketed. human rights watch visited 20 prisons in nine states and prison officials and gerontology experts, and prisoners. they found officials scrambling of elderlythe issues prisoners. facilitiesaw limited and a lack of planning and lack of support from elected officials. we hear about the problem from someone who may surprise you. i am the warden at louisiana state penitentiary. we have about 4000 lifers.
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we have more inmates in the release out of the front gates. that is a shame. we usually have one or two a month. we use resources taking care of old men instead of having resources for school and training, preparing young men to , withk into society shorter sentences, so they do not recidivate. you create victims by not letting the older ones go. he is now the lead organizer rapp.
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the organization monitors conditions in state prisons. -- yound in your case started to look at aging prisoners. talk about what you found. >> based on the same circumstances that i went through, i realized it was general policy, not simply directed at me. years.d 33 in 1978, i was arrested for a series of offenses, i went to trial and i was convicted -- the controlling offense was attempted murder on a police officer. all of the others subsumed under that. . was given 15 years teal life by the 15-year mark, i had made major achievements. i had earned before you are college degrees, an associate's
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in business. masters from syracuse university. masters degree in sociology from suny newport. in addition, i had made achievements in earning a number of certificates, such as paralegal, counseling -- >> in this last minute that you have, you presented this to the parole board. you are supposed to be out after 15 years. what happened? >> i was denied a total of nine times at two year increments. board meeting, i was released. >> what was the reason? >> simply a change of heart. someone was on the board that was more compassionate and
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released me. >> the number of people in down, butdestly going older people, skyrocketing. >> we need to look at parole practices. the parole board routinely on the people based offense, something that people cannot change, like our height or eye color. if someone represents a low risk to recidivate, we should release them. it is more expensive to incarcerate people who are older. there,ave to leave it but we will continue in the post show. i want to thank soffiyah elijah for being here, as well as our guest mujahid farid. myers,uan mendez, matt with the war resisters league.
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juan mendez is a you and rapporteur on torture. that doesn't for the show. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to outreach@democracynow.org or mail them to democracy now!
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