Which authoritarian regime just sentenced seven incarcerated inmates to a combined total of twenty years in solitary confinement simply for shooting a music video for YouTube and having it featured on the World Star Hip Hop web site? If you answered Iran, North Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia or China, you’re completely off-base. It’s none other than the world’s self-proclaimed leading democracy, and lead incarcerater – the United States of America – where such punitive measures are taken in response to the most innocuous of acts. In the U.S. state of South Carolina, seven individuals are being treated more viciously than enemies of state during war time. As reported by BuzzFeed,
Records show five of the inmates received 180 days in “disciplinary detention,” while two others received punishments of 270 and 360 days, for “creating or assisting with a social media site.”
But additional punishments for “security threat group” (gang-related) materials and possessing a contraband cell phone added up to a combined 7,150 days, or 19.75 years, in solitary confinement for the inmates.
The inmates also lost years’ worth of canteen, phone, and visitation privileges, as well as good time accrued.
What’s most appalling about this case is that it does not appear to be an anomaly when it comes to the so-called “justice” meted out by the South Carolina Department of “Corrections”. It was previously uncovered that solitary confinement, an internationally recognized form of torture, is being used regularly as a form of punishment for such “offenses” as posting to Facebook and other online social media sites. One inmate by the name of Tyheem Henry was even sentenced in 2013 to a total of 37 years in solitary confinement for updating his Facebook status 38 times. That’s essentially a year spent in solitary confinement for each post.
Anyone with even the slightest sense of fairness and justice realizes what an atrocity such an extreme method of punishment is for such a minor infraction. South Carolina Department of Corrections director Bryan Stirling however disagrees, emphasizing that his department is “no different from any other corrections department across the country dealing with this issue.”