Time for Compassion? Aging Political Prisoners Suffer From Illness, Decades in Solitary Confinement


As people around the world mark the holiday season, often recognized as a time of compassion, we host a roundtable discussion about the growing number of aging political prisoners in the United States convicted in the 1960s and 1970s who are seeking compassionate release, clemency or a pardon. In some cases, they are simply asking to be released into general population after decades of solitary confinement. Many have poorly treated diseases such as diabetes, while at least one has terminal cancer.
We are joined by Soffiyah Elijah, an attorney who has represented many political prisoners and successfully won the release Marilyn Buck in 2010 so she could live her final weeks in freedom before she died from cancer. Elijah also has a separate career as the executive director of the Correctional Association of New York, which monitors conditions in state prisons. We also speak with Jihad Abdulmumit, national chairperson for the Jericho Movement; Juan Méndez, United Nations special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, who has found the use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons can amount to cruel and unusual punishment; and Matt Meyer, longtime leader of the War Resisters League who previously served as coordinator of the international Nobel campaign for Puerto Rican political prisoners. He co-wrote the introduction to “Oscar López Rivera: Between Torture and Resistance” and is the editor of “Let Freedom Ring: A Collection of Documents from the Movements to Free U.S. Political Prisoners.”

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