Federal Court Compares WI Supermax To Soviet Gulags


A federal appeals court has likened conditions in Wisconsin’s Supermax prison to the most punitive “gulags” of the former Soviet Union, reports the Capital Times in Madison. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit questioned whether the treatment of inmates at the Boscobel prison violated constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment. Said Judge Terence Evans: “Stripped naked in a small prison cell with nothing except a toilet; forced to sleep on a concrete floor or slab; denied any human contact; fed nothing but ‘nutri-loaf;’ and given just a modicum of toilet papers – four squares – only a few times. Although this might sound like a stay at a Soviet gulag in the 1930s, it is, according to the claims in this case, Wisconsin in 2002.”

At issue is the prison’s Behavioral Modification Program, which is aimed at getting problem inmates to obey prison rules. “It is not simply a natural consequence ‘automatically’ growing out of a rule infraction. It is much more elaborate,” Evans wrote. “An inmate who refuses to put on his trousers can correct the situation immediately by putting them on. In contrast, (prison officials) did not simply take (the prisoner’s) blanket away until he conformed with the rule. Once he received notice that he was to be put in the BMP, he had to complete the whole program. He couldn’t make it stop.”

Link: http://www.madison.com/tct/mad/topstories/index.php?ntid=107533&ntpid=0

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