Known for years of walking across states carrying messages of drone warfare devastation, the peace organization Voices of Creative Nonviolence (VCNV) is again walking 150 miles this year across Illinois. The message on this year’s walk will include opposition to a new administrative Supermax federal prison: ADX Thompson.
Vera Institute of Justice, a national policy nonprofit released a report in May of 2015 titled Solitary Confinement: Common Misconceptions and Emerging Safe Alternatives where it was reported that “using abusive language” landed 85% of those incarcerated in Illinois into “segregation” during the 1-year period that they watched the numbers.
The Uptown People’s Law Center has initiated a federal suit on June 24, 2015 against the state of Illinois over its solitary confinement practices which the suit alleges includes the use of the practice as a punishment for minor verbal infractions. The group works for the rights of those incarcerated and says that since 98% of those currently in prison will be released, that it’s important to care for the population to protect against negative long term effects.
The walk takes place while Illinois is considering solitary reform legislation to limit the use of solitary confinement. The measure introduced by Representative La Shawn Ford in the Illinois House would allow solitary confinement for no more than five consecutive days and five total days during a 150-day period instead of the current limitless weeks and years that has been in practice. The limit would also extend to the number of hours a person could be confined in a solitary cell to no more than 19 hours in a one day period.
Buddy Bell who organizes with VCNV said that the federal Bureau of Prisons will double to 3,800 its number of isolation cells which is one reason the 150-mile walk will land at Thomson. The group also opposes the transfer of the 91 people still incarcerated in Guantanamo and favors the release of those not charged with a crime, “[We oppose] the illegality of continuing Guantanamo-style detention without charge, and the possibility for alternative (non-prison) job creation in northwest Illinois.” Those walking will promote the use of tax money to go to mediation programs, drug rehabilitation, education and jobs.
The walk began on Saturday May 28, 2016 and will finish on Saturday, June 11th in Thomson, IL. The Nation Report will bring on the ground coverage beginning next week.