Archive for February 22nd, 2012

End the use of long-term solitary confinement in Illinois!

| February 22, 2012 | 3 Replies
End the use of long-term solitary confinement in Illinois!

Hey all. I haven’t been posting since last summer, mostly because I’ve been drowning in graduate school duties. One of these duties has been interning at Chicago’s Cook County Jail. There, I sit in on group therapy sessions for inmates with drug-related offenses. I’ve been consistently touched by the philosophical and psychological depth of these men, their gentleness and the span of their regrets. These are men who will sit down and opine for hours on topics you wouldn’t expect low-SES drug dealers and addicts to have much knowledge of: gender identity is a big topic, for example (these guys live firsthand the consequences of masculinity). And when it comes to living with shame or regret, these guys are almost the best resource you can find.

The only place where you can find more affecting people, I think, is at prisons. I’ve been volunteering for a Chicago-based group called Tamms Year Ten, which advocates for prisoners housed in long-term solitary confinement. I write and read inmates’ letters, respond to their requests for photos and magazines, and read their countless reports of abuse– from medical staff, from Corrections Officers, from mail room staff, and from the state itself.

Let’s be clear on what “long-term” solitary confinement means. These men at Tamms are housed alone for 23-hours a day, with zero human contact, for decades. Some have been locked up alone for 23-28 years.

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Is your original cell still alive?

| February 22, 2012 | 2 Replies
Is your original cell still alive?

I’m in the process of watching a (Great Courses) video course titled “Understanding DNA, Genes and their Real-World Applications,” taught by Professor David Sadava. In today’s lecture (#5) he asked whether one’s original cell still exists in each adult. Each of us came from one cell, a fertilized egg, which divided, then divided again, on and on. Sadava’s question was whether our original cells might still be alive somewhere in our adult human bodies, decades later. His answer was that there is no compelling reason to assume that that original cell is not still “somewhere” inside of you, one cell among the 60 trillion cells that make up your body.

Intriguing thought.

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