Matir Asurim members live and work in the US and Canada. Efforts to end solitary confinement are taking different paths in the two countries. MA recently endorsed a piece of federal legislation in the US and shares information about efforts in Canada.
US: End Solitary Confinement Act
STATEMENT TO SHARE
Matir Asurim: Jewish Care Network for Incarcerated People regularly encounters the physical, psychological, and spiritual devastation of solitary confinement. Our name, “Matir Asurim (literally: The One Who Frees Captives),” reflects Jewish values — including human dignity, healing, and teshuvah (repentance/restoration) — in opposition to solitary confinement. We applaud introduction of the End Solitary Confinement Act (HR 4972) in the US Congress, thank its co-sponsors, and encourage others to support this legislation and, more generally, an end to this form of torture wherever it is employed.
We implore other Jewish institutions and organizations to get behind the work of ending solitary and advocating for prison justice more broadly.
WRITE REPS For those in the US: Use this form to encourage your Representative to co-sponsor this bill or thank them for already doing so.
Canada: Isolation Persists
In November 2019, Canada announced abolition of administrative segregation. The shift from “solitary confinement” to “structured intervention units” did not substantially change the experience of extended isolation and its detrimental effects, according to this 2021 on the implementation of the SIUs from May, 2021. More recently, McGill Law School Journal offered this “[Counterpoint] Solitary Confinement in Canada, concerning “the history and evolution of solitary confinement, why its elimination has proved difficult, and the challenges of piecemeal versus system-wide change.”
This episode explores the practice of solitary confinement in Canada and the winding road toward its abolition. Our two guests, Andrea Monteiro (former Director of Corrections for the Yukon Government and founder of Ethical Correctional Consulting, Inc.) and Nora Demnati (a Montreal-based prison lawyer and instructor at McGill’s Faculty of Law) bring their differing experiences and perspectives to bear on the question of prison reform.— podcast, with full transcript, June 27 2023
Alt Text for graphic: “In keeping with our core belief that all people are made in the image of the divine and deserve to be treated as such, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs joins the National Religious Campaign Against Torture and our other multi-faith and secular partners in support of the End Solitary Confinement Act. — David Bohm, Chair, Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA)” Take action: nrcat.salsalabs.org/esca-2023. #EndSolitary Torture is a Moral Issue