In my last two articles, "Why Twitter Should Ban Donald Trump: Part 2 Perverted Twitter Justice" and "Part 1 #OpKillTroll", I kind of threw in the following sentences, mostly because the media has largely ignored it
Barrett Brown even recently won a National Magazine Award for The Intercept, while in solitary confinement. This keeps happening after he gives press interviews, and the media doesn't give him enough coverage, as he finishes a five-year sentence, even though he never hacked anyone.On January 25, 2016, The Washington Post published an op-ed under the US President's byline called "Barack Obama: Why we must rethink solitary confinement."
"Prison officials informed him that he was being 'segregated' for 'information-gathering purposes,'" the Free Barrett website notes. "For the first three days in the SHU, Barrett was deprived of his daily antidepressant medication."
"Solitary confinement gained popularity in the United States in the early 1800s, and the rationale for its use has varied over time," Obama wrote, adding that his "administration is taking steps to address this problem."
Obama continued, "There are as many as 100,000 people held in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons — including juveniles and people with mental illnesses. As many as 25,000 inmates are serving months, even years of their sentences alone in a tiny cell, with almost no human contact."
"Research suggests that solitary confinement has the potential to lead to devastating, lasting psychological consequences," Obama added. "It has been linked to depression, alienation, withdrawal, a reduced ability to interact with others and the potential for violent behavior. Some studies indicate that it can worsen existing mental illnesses and even trigger new ones. Prisoners in solitary are more likely to commit suicide, especially juveniles and people with mental illnesses."
If Obama truly believed this, he wouldn't have only banned it against juveniles: "How can we subject prisoners to unnecessary solitary confinement, knowing its effects, and then expect them to return to our communities as whole people? It doesn’t make us safer. It’s an affront to our common humanity."
Obama shouldn't really be applauded for the half-ass measures he has taken. Before he leaves office he should stand by his words and make sure this "affront to our common humanity" isn't abused by any public or private prison officials anymore.
Solitary confinement isn't the only wrongful punishment that Barrett Brown has been hit with for speaking to the media.
On July 16, 2015, in one of his award-winning columns for The Intercept, Barrett Brown wrote: "...I was using the inmate email system to follow up with a journalist I’d provided with contact info for one of the inmate researchers and reiterating that the fellow had documented evidence of corruption within the Bureau of Prisons. Then, an hour later, my email was cut off. After a couple of days of inquiry I was pulled aside by the resident head of security, a D.C. liaison by the name of Terrance Moore, who told me he’d been the one to cut off my email access, as I’d been 'using it for the wrong thing,' which he clarified to mean talking to the press."
At Shadowproof Press, Managing Editor Kevin Gosztola reported on July 21, 2016, "Jailed journalist and activist Barrett Brown has received 30 more days of solitary confinement in the prison, where he is serving a five-year and three-month sentence issued against him in January."
"Brown, who had been put in 'the hole' at the Fort Worth Correctional Institution previously, was put in solitary confinement in late June after staff 'singled' him out 'for a search' of his locker and 'found a cup of homemade alcohol,'" Gosztola added.
Does President Obama approve of what happened to Barrett Brown? Did this punishment fit the "crime" for a journalist fighting a years-long addiction to heroin and alcohol while being locked up, mostly because of his anger at being wrongfully persecuted by Obama's Justice Department and wrongfully raided in March of 2012, based reportedly on the words of creepy informants - tied to security firms Brown covered as a journalist - who should be arrested for continually lying to the feds?
(Editor's note: The preceding paragraph included a sly tribute to Barrett Brown, who often purposely uses run-on sentences.)
Gosztola added, "As the Free Barrett Brown group indicated on July 20, Brown 'had a hearing on his infraction and received an extra 30 days in the hole, plus 90 days of phone, visiting, commissary and email restriction.'"
This keeps happening, Gosztola argued because "Brown has broad access to the press. He has been writing satirical columns from prison. This upsets BOP because it makes it harder to isolate and control Brown as a prisoner."
"We can report that Barrett Brown was placed in FCI Three Rivers’ Segregated Housing Unit (SHU) last Wednesday, 27 January, and released Tuesday 2 February — meaning he was in the hole on Monday 1 Feb. when it was announced that Barrett won the National Magazine Award for his prison column in The Intercept," the Free Barrett website posted on February 3, 2016
The Free Barrett website added, "Barrett was moved to the SHU just two hours after he had done a telephone interview with radio producer Kenny Webster. Prison officials informed him that he was being 'segregated' for 'information-gathering purposes.' For the first three days in the SHU, Barrett was deprived of his daily antidepressant medication. Barrett has previously been in the SHU several times, including one stay more than a month long."
"Obama’s action on solitary is a good small step in the right direction toward ending this abusive practice," Brown's supporters wrote.
If journalists and bloggers reported more on what keeps happening to Barrett Brown, then it might stop happening.
Ten days after I first noted this, a search on Google News reveals that only one journalist has reported on Brown's last stretch in solitary confinement.
At D Magazine, Brown's former editor who testified at one of his hearings wrote on February 5, Tim Rogers wrote, "Barrett Brown, as you might know, won a National Magazine Award earlier this week for a jailhouse column that began right here on FrontBurner and then migrated to Glenn Greenwald’s Intercept."
Rogers mentioned that Brown has suffered from "mental illness," and, in fact, the first judge that saw Barrett after his arrest in September of 2012 agreed, and sent him to a mental health facility. "And when Barrett won his award, he was in solitary confinement, where he was deprived of his daily antidepressants," Rogers added.
Free Barrett's twitter account agreed with my tweet about the media's inattention to the ongoing torture of Brown, and added, "Hmm. You'd think someone winning a journalism award from solitary confinement would be news."
On February 1, The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald proudly bragged, "I'm pretty confident at the end of the night, we'll have the only award-winner in federal prison."
Free Barrett responded on February 8, after my tweets, "@ggreenwald even better, you got the only award-winner in solitary confinement. shouldn't this be news?" but all Greenwald did was retweet it. Even though he did help Brown raise money to hire better lawyers than the terrible public defendant who did little for Barrett when he was first arrested, Greenwald's Intercept hasn't really done enough reporting on Brown's imprisonment, and he really should assign reporters to help fight against the ongoing torture of one of their colleagues.
So I'm ending this plea with the same words I wrote at the top.
(Editor's Note: I try to stay out of taking sides, since I like to report fairly on both sides, but I am passionate about any journalists who are persecuted, wrongly arrested and/or mistreated in prison. Any journalist or blogger who reads this article PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do a story about this, to help prevent journalist Barrett Brown from being tortured for speaking out about his case or wrongful conditions in prisons.)