Thursday, August 23, 2012

In A Box

The Phoenix's Lance Tapley--one of Maine's best reporters--has this superb short piece about solitary confinement for apes and humans.

Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins is a key cosponsor of legislation that, among other provisions, would outlaw psychologically damaging solitary confinement for more than 500 chimpanzees caged for research in federally supported laboratories. In July the bill bipartisanly passed the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee on its way to a floor vote.


Some prisoner-rights advocates think it's ironic when laws give rights to animals that aren't extended to humans. Prison Legal News editor Paul Wright noted that, for example, "there are existing laws saying how much living space primates should have in captivity. By contrast, no such laws apply to humans in captivity."


S. 810, the Great Ape Protection Act, "corrects the pain and psychological damage that apes often experience as a result of needless experiments and solitary confinement," Senator Collins said in a recent statement. Repeated requests to her office for her views on human solitary confinement did not get a response.
It's been a while since a Maine journalist asked members of the congressional delegation a question they--or at least two of them--would rather not answer.