Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst convicted of giving a trove of secrets to WikiLeaks, is serving a 35-year sentence inside a military prison. And now she may be thrown into solitary confinement indefinitely, her lawyer says.
A lengthy stay in solitary confinement is arguably torture. Shane Bauer, who spent seven months isolated in an Iranian prison, thinks so. “The ACLU says yes. Physicians for Human Rights agree. The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law and several other prisoner rights groups recently filed a petition with the United Nations claiming just that,” he wrote in a harrowing article about his experience. “Human Rights Watch says at the very least, it constitutes cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, which is prohibited by international law.”
In U.S. prisons, reformers have been urging wardens to stop relying so much on solitary confinement. Some respond that they have no other way to control violent inmates who belong to prison gangs and pose a danger to the safety of others.
But Chelsea Manning was not being violent in prison. She poses no apparent risk to fellow inmates, nor has she been adjudged at risk herself. And if you try to guess the transgressions that may trigger this punishment, there’s no way you’ll hazard anything more petty than the truth.