Rabbi Charles Feinberg
Over 30 people attended IAHR’s second forum on solitary confinement in Maryland in Frederick on July 24. The forum was held at Frederick Friends and was cosponsored by Unity in Frederick, Social Action Committee, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland, and the Baltimore-Washington Criminal Justice and Mercy Ministries.
Several things stood out in this month’s forum. First, Wendell France whose career was devoted both to law enforcement and corrections, spoke about how prison authorities get so much wrong. The reason he said is that no one asks the prisoners how to run the prison better! Indeed, if feedback from those incarcerated was taken seriously, the prisons would deliver services that would truly meet their needs. This would mean delivering real education and training to the incarcerated consistently, better medical care, and better communication with loved ones. The result of this is that those leaving prison would be better equipped to re-enter the community and live as law abiding citizens.
Second, Munib Lohrasbi (who was a last minute replacement for another speaker who could not come) spoke eloquently about the research he is conducting for Disability Rights Maryland. Munib spoke extensively about how people in solitary are mistreated and have to endure difficult if not horrible conditions: cold in the winter, intense heat in the summer, broken windows, and indifferent medical care.
Third, the energy in the room rose when Suzanne O’Hatnick spoke about how people could get involved. IAHR plans to introduce new legislation on solitary confinement in the 2019 session of the Maryland Legislature. We will be announcing that legislation this fall. But we need people to volunteer now. Please click here to see the different volunteer opportunities.
Our next scheduled forum on solitary confinement in Maryland will be held on September 20 in Prince George’s County. Time and location will be announced shortly.