Are you aware that at least 80,000 people in the U.S. criminal justice system are held in solitary confinement? NRCAT (the National Religious Campaign Against Torture; www.nrcat.org) views prolonged solitary confinement that is occurring in U.S. prisons as tantamount to torture. The United States is a world leader in the number of prisoners held in solitary confinement. In Pennsylvania NRCAT representatives have met with the Department of Corrections to address solitary confinement as a severely harmful measure to prisoners’ mental health.
NRCAT has created a 20 minute video, “Solitary Confinement in Your Backyard” to describe the harm caused to prisoners subjected to prolonged solitary confinement. The video offers varied perspectives: former prisoners who experienced solitary confinement, religious leaders, Commissioner Joseph Ponte of the Maine Department of Corrections, and psychiatrist Stuart Grassian, M.D., a national expert on the psychological effects of solitary confinement.
The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia are participating members of NRCAT which is an organization of religious congregations working to end torture throughout the world. In collaboration with NRCAT, the Office of International Justice and Peace of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops produced “Torture is a Moral Issue” with a study guide prompting reflection on torture in the light of Catholic social teaching. We display during June, International Awareness of Torture Month, a banner to call attention to our mission to end all U.S. sponsored torture. In the United States especially, we work to eliminate all forms of torture.
The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia invite you to join us on United Nations’ International Day for the Awareness of Torture, Tuesday evening, June 26, at 6:30 pm. at Our Lady of Angels Convent, 609 Aston, PA to explore solitary confinement through this video. Please call 610-558-5395 with your name and phone number to indicate you are planning to attend.