THE PROJECT

EVERY DAY MEN 
 AND WOMEN 
 ARE UNJUSTLY CONDEMNED TO DEATH!  

KEY FIGURES ON THE DEATH PENALTY

The October 1, 2019 report includes the following statistics:


The number of prisoners on death row across the country was 2,639, a decrease of 17 from July 1, 2019 and 82 (3.0%) from the 2,721 reported on October 1, 2018 - coinciding with exactly the same decreases as in the previous quarter.

The convictions or death sentences of 232 prisoners on death row were overturned pending retrial, reconviction or completion of appeal, meaning that 2,407 prisoners are facing active death sentences, a decrease of 13 from the previous quarter. 34.6 per cent of those on death row in the United States (913 prisoners) were in states with moratoriums on executions.

Jurisdictions with the largest number of prisoners on death row :


California (727)
Florida (348)
Texas (219)
Alabama (177)
Pennsylvania (152)
North Carolina (144)
Ohio (140)
Arizona (120)


Jurisdictions (with 10 or more prisoners on death row) with the highest percentage of minorities on death row:


Nebraska (75%)
Texas (74%)
Louisiana (71%)
California (67%)
Pennsylvania (64%)
North Carolina (62%)
Mississippi (60%)
Ohio (59%)
Georgia (57%)
South Carolina (57%)


Source: NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Death Row USA, Fall 2019.

Here is the list of people executed in the USA : 

https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/executions/execution-database

Here is the list of exonerated persons : 

https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/policy-issues/innocence-database

 

Here is the list of executed and potentially innocent people : 

https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/policy-issues/innocence/executed-but-possibly-innocent

KEY FIGURES OF MENTAL SUFFERING

SUMMARY


Serious mental illness has become so prevalent in the U.S. correctional system that prisons and correctional facilities are now commonly referred to as "the new asylums". In fact, Los Angeles County Jail, Cook County Jail in Chicago or Riker's Island Prison in New York City each hold more mentally ill inmates than any other psychiatric hospital in the United States. Overall, it is now estimated that approximately 20 percent of prison inmates and 15 percent of inmates in state prisons suffer from severe mental illness. Based on the total prison population, this means that approximately 383,000 people with serious psychiatric illnesses will be behind bars in the United States in 2014, nearly 10 times the number of patients remaining in state hospitals across the country.

 

 

 

 

BACKGROUND


In 44 states, a prison or penitentiary houses more mentally ill people than the largest remaining state mental hospital; in every county in the United States with both a county prison and a county psychiatric facility, people with mental illness are more likely to be incarcerated than hospitalized. A survey conducted in 2004-2005 found that there were "more than three times as many people with serious mental illness in prisons and jails as in hospitals".

 

 

 

 

SMI IN JAIL


A 2009 study based on interviews with inmates in Maryland and New York City prisons found that, in the month prior to the survey, 16.7 per cent of inmates (14.5 per cent of men and 31 per cent of women) had symptoms of a serious mental illness (schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, major depression or short-term psychotic disorder). However, 31% of inmates who were asked to participate in the study declined, a subset that almost certainly included many people with paranoid schizophrenia. Interviews were conducted between 2002 and 2006. Given the continued growth of mental illness in the criminal justice system since that time and the high refusal rate in the survey, it is reasonable to estimate that approximately 20% of inmates now have a serious mental illness.

 

 

 

 

SMI'S IN STATE PRISONS
In 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice found that "approximately 10% of state prisoners...reported symptoms that met the criteria for a psychotic disorder". Given the continued growth of mental illness in the criminal justice system since Department of Justice data were collected in 2004, a prevalence rate of 15 per cent would seem conservative at this time.

 

 

 

 

SMI POPULATION ESTIMATES
In 2014, there were 744,600 inmates in county and city prisons in the United States. While 20 per cent of those inmates suffered from serious mental illness, the number of inmates with serious psychiatric illnesses in United States prisons was approximately 149,000 that year. That number has since increased.


In 2014, there were 1,561,500 inmates in state prisons. While 15 per cent of those inmates suffered from serious mental illness, the number of inmates in state prisons with serious psychiatric illnesses was approximately 234,200 that year. This number has increased since then.


Combining the estimated populations of inmates in prisons and state prisons suffering from severe mental illness, the estimated population of affected inmates is 383,200. Since there are only about 38,000 severely mentally ill persons remaining in public psychiatric hospitals, this means that there are ten times as many severely mentally ill persons in state prisons and jails as in other public psychiatric hospitals.

 

 

 

 

MENTAL ILLNESS BEHIND BARS


Mentally disturbed prisoners stay in prison longer than other prisoners.

In Orange County Prison in Florida, the average length of stay for all inmates is 26 days; for mentally disordered inmates it is 51 days. At Riker's Island, New York, the average length of stay is 42 days for all inmates and 215 days for mentally disordered inmates.

 

 

 

 

The main reason why mentally disordered prisoners are incarcerated longer than other prisoners is that many of them find it difficult to understand and follow the rules of the prison and penal institution. According to one study, inmates are twice as likely (19 per cent versus 9 per cent) to be charged with violating prison rules. In another study, in Washington State prisons, inmates with mental disorders represented accounted for 41% of offences when they constituted only 19% of the inmate population.

 

In addition, seriously mentally ill prisoners awaiting trial are incarcerated longer than other prisoners in many States if they require assessment or restoration of competence to stand trial. A survey of public hospital officials conducted in 2015 revealed that 78 per cent of the 40 responding States were pretrial detainees for hospital services. Waiting times were "in the order of 30 days" in most states, but three states reported waiting times of six months to a year for forensic hospital beds. In some States, mentally disordered detainees would spend more time waiting for their competency to be restored before being tried than they would spend behind bars if convicted of the offence with which they are charged.

 

Incarceration of mentally ill prisoners is costly.

 

Mentally ill prisoners cost more than other prisoners for a variety of reasons, including increased staffing requirements. In Broward County, Florida, in 2007, it cost $80 per day to house a regular inmate, but $130 per day for a mentally ill inmate. In Texas prisons in 2003, a study reported that "the average prisoner costs the state about $22,000 a year", but "mentally ill prisoners cost between $30,000 and $50,000 a year". Psychiatric drugs account for a significant portion of the rising costs. The cost of settlement or loss of trials resulting from the treatment of mentally ill prisoners may also add to the costs.

Mentally ill inmates create behaviour management problems that lead to their isolation.

Because of their thought disorders, many inmates with serious mental illness have behaviour management problems. This contributes to their significant over-representation in the segregation subset of inmates. In Wisconsin, for example, a 2010 audit of three state prisons found that "between 55 percent and 76 percent of inmates in segregation are mentally ill.

 

News stories often focus on the resulting problems. At Hinds County Jail in Mississippi in 2005, an inmate was described as having "ripped a damn, indestructible padded cell and ate the lid off the damn padded cell". We took his clothes and gave him a paper suit to wear, and he ate it. When they gave him food in a Styrofoam container, he ate it. His stomach was pumped six times, and he was operated on twice".

 

Inmates with mental disorders are more likely to commit suicide.

Suicide is the leading cause of death in penal institutions, and many studies indicate that up to half of inmate suicides are committed by the 15 to 20 per cent of inmates suffering from serious mental illness. A 2002 study in Washington State found that "the prevalence of mental illness among inmates who attempted suicide was 77 per cent, compared to 15 per cent [among inmates] in the general prison population". In California in 2002, the Los Angeles Times headlined "Jail Suicides Reach Record Pace in State," and added: "Some experts blame the recent increase in the number of mentally ill behind bars.

KEY FIGURES FOR MEDICAL PROBLEMS
Evaluating_State_Prison_Health_Care_Repo

Prison officers are required under the Eighth Amendment to provide prisoners with
adequate medical care.

 This principle applies regardless of whether the medical care is provided by civil servants or by private medical personnel under contract with the government.


Yet every day sick prisoners are denied consultations, medication or even surgery, causing serious harm and in some cases death. 

Medical Problems

44%
OF THE PRISONERS REPORTED SERIOUS MEDICAL PROBLEMS

75% 
OF PRISONERS REQUIRES CONSULTATIONS IN CONNECTION WITH THIS PROBLEM.

MORE THAN 50% WILL DEVELOP HEPATITIS C DURING INCARCERATION.

It is estimated that 44 percent of state and 39 percent of federal inmates reported having a current medical problem other than a cold or virus.


Arthritis (15% of state and 12% of federal inmates) and high blood pressure (14% of state and 13% of federal inmates) were the two most frequently reported medical conditions.


Of those inmates who reported a medical problem, 70% of state and 76% of federal inmates reported seeing a health care professional because of the problem.


More than 8 out of 10 inmates in federal and state prisons reported having had a medical exam or blood test since admission.


Almost all inmates in federal and state prisons reported having been tested for tuberculosis (95% and 96%, respectively).


More than one-third (36%) of state inmates and nearly one-quarter (24%) of federal inmates reported having a disability.
Learning is the most frequently reported disability among state and federal inmates (23% and 13%, respectively).


16% of state and 8% of federal inmates reported multiple disabilities.

KEY FIGURES ON SOLITARY CONFINEMENT

Isolation can cause "irreversible" brain damage...
Dana Smith | Scientific American | November 21, 2018

 

 

 

An estimated 80,000 people, mostly men, are in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. They are confined in windowless cells the size of queen-size beds for 23 hours a day and have virtually no human contact except for brief interactions with prison guards. According to scientists speaking at the Society for Neuroscience conference, this type of social isolation and sensory deprivation can have traumatic effects on the brain, many of which can be irreversible. Neuroscientists, lawyers and activists such as [former inmate Robert] King have joined forces to abolish solitary confinement as a cruel and unusual form of punishment.

Chronic stress damages the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is important for memory, spatial orientation and emotional regulation. As a result, socially isolated individuals experience memory loss, cognitive decline and depression. Studies show that depression leads to further cell death in the hippocampus and the loss of a growth factor that has properties similar to those of antidepressants, creating a vicious cycle. When sensory deprivation and lack of natural light come into play, people can suffer from psychosis and disruptions in the genes that control the body's natural circadian rhythms. "Social deprivation is bad for the structure and function of the brain. Sensory deprivation is bad for the structure and function of the brain. Circadian dysregulation is bad," said Huda Akil, professor of neuroscience at the University of Michigan, who was also on the panel. "Loneliness in itself is extremely damaging".

 

 

 

 

Source: https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2018/11/21/solitary-confinement-may-cause-irreversible-damage-to-the-brain/
 

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NEUROSCIENCE

Neuroscientists argue against isolation
Prolonged social isolation can cause severe and lasting brain damage. 

 

By Dana G. Smith, November 9, 2018

 

SAN DIEGO-Robert King spent 29 years living alone in a six-by-nine foot prison cell.

He was one of the "Angola Three" - a trio of men held in solitary confinement for decades and named after the Louisiana State Penitentiary where they were held. King was released in 2001 after a judge overturned his 1973 conviction for the murder of a fellow inmate. Since his exoneration, he has devoted his life to raising public awareness of the psychological harms of solitary confinement.

"People want to know if I have psychological problems or not, if I'm crazy or not - "How did you not go crazy?" King said in a packed session at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting here this week. I look at them and I say, "I didn't tell you I wasn't crazy." I'm not saying I was psychotic or anything like that, but being put in a six-foot by six-foot cell for 23 hours a day, no matter how you look, you're not sane".

An estimated 80,000 people, mostly men, are in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. They are confined in windowless cells the size of a queen-size bed for 23 hours a day and have virtually no human contact except for brief interactions with prison guards. According to scientists speaking at the conference, this type of social isolation and sensory deprivation can have traumatic effects on the brain, many of which can be irreversible. Neuroscientists, lawyers and activists such as King have joined together to abolish solitary confinement as a cruel and unusual form of punishment.

Most prisoners sentenced to solitary confinement remain in solitary confinement for one to three months (pdf), although nearly a quarter spend more than a year; the minimum duration is usually 15 days. The most common reasons for solitary confinement are preventive measures, which may be indefinite, or punishment, which is more likely to be purposeful. Several States have adopted legislation limiting the persons who may be placed in solitary confinement, including the mentally ill and juvenile offenders, and the duration of the measure. The United Nations recommends that solitary confinement for more than 15 days should be prohibited as it no longer constitutes a form of torture.

Even in less extreme cases than Angola's Three, prolonged social isolation - feeling alone, not just being alone - can have serious physical, emotional and cognitive consequences. It is associated with a 26 per cent increased risk of premature death, largely due to an uncontrolled stress response resulting in higher cortisol levels, increased blood pressure and inflammation. Feelings of social isolation also increase the risk of suicide. "We view isolation as nothing less than a death sentence of social deprivation," said Stephanie Cacioppo, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Chicago, who was on the panel with Dr. King.

For better or worse, the brain is shaped by its environment - and the social isolation and sensory deprivation King experienced probably changed his. Chronic stress damages the hippocampus, an area of the brain important for memory, spatial orientation and emotion regulation. As a result, socially isolated individuals experience memory loss, cognitive decline and depression. Studies show that depression leads to further cell death in the hippocampus and the loss of a growth factor that has properties similar to those of antidepressants, creating a vicious cycle. When sensory deprivation and lack of natural light come into play, people can suffer from psychosis and disruptions in the genes that control the body's natural circadian rhythms. "Social deprivation is bad for the structure and function of the brain. Sensory deprivation is bad for the structure and function of the brain. Circadian dysregulation is bad," said Huda Akil, professor of neuroscience at the University of Michigan, who was also on the panel. "Loneliness in itself is extremely damaging".

King has experienced lasting cognitive changes since his time in isolation. His memory is impaired and he has lost his ability to navigate, both signs of damage to the seahorse. At one point he was unable to recognize faces, but this problem has passed. Cacioppo hypothesized that social areas of his brain that were not being used, such as those involved in facial recognition, may have atrophied during his time in isolation. In support of this idea, recent research conducted on mice by neuroscientist Richard Smeyne at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and presented at the conference revealed that after a month of social isolation, neurons in the sensory and motor regions of the brain shrank by 20%.

 

The question remains whether these neuronal changes are permanent or whether they can be reversed. However, Ms Akil said she doubted "whether you can go through this experience and come out of it with the same brain you entered, and not in the right way".

King said he survived the ordeal because he recognized that his case was "politicized" and more important than himself. He and many supporters believe that the Angola Three were targeted and falsely convicted because they were members of the Black Panther Party. Their cases were later taken up by the United Nations as an example of the inhumanity of solitary confinement. According to Cacioppo, King's connection to a larger group and a larger purpose probably gave him the resilience to survive the ordeal. "Collective identity is protective against individual loneliness," she noted.

By linking their research to King's experience, the neuroscientists on the panel hope to advance people's perspectives and politics on this issue. Jules Lobel, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh and the panel's sole counsel, believes they can do so: Neuroscience research played a role in a class action lawsuit he won against solitary confinement in California. "Neuroscience can not only be a powerful tool for understanding the human condition," he said, "but it can also play an important role in changing the conditions in which humans live.

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