Privacy SOS

Congress can now order people into solitary?

Ecological rights activist Tim DeChristopher, who is serving two years in federal prison for bidding in a land sale auction for land he never intended to pay for, has reportedly been moved to solitary confinement at the request of an unnamed Congressperson. 

According to the solidarity website PeacefulUprising.org, DeChristopher was moved into the "Special Housing Unit" (SHU — solitary confinement) after 

an unidentified congressman had called from Washington DC, complaining of an email that Tim had sent to a friend. Tim was inquiring about the reported business practices of one of his legal fund contributors, threatening to return the money if their values no longer aligned with his own.  According to Prison officials, Tim will continue to be held in isolated confinement pending an investigation. There is no definite timeline for inmates being held in the SHU — often times they await months for the conclusion of an investigation.

What country are we living in, again? Since when does the Bureau of Prisons take orders from Congresspeople about whom to place in solitary confinement and for what reasons? When did emailing a request for information about a supporter of your legal defense become a crime?

Solitary confinement can amount to torture. It is cruel and unusual punishment and should never be used to punish people for ideological 'offenses,' as appears to be what has happened Tim DeChristopher's case. 

Spread the word about what has reportedly happened to DeChristopher. If we know one thing about prisons and the outside world, it's that the walls that contain the people on the inside cease to retain their repressive power when those of us on the outside make sustained noise about the injustices perpetrated inside them.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.