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Friday, June 22, 2012

  • Torture in U.S. Prisons? Historic Senate Hearing Takes Up Solitary Confinement’s Devastating Toll

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    In the first-ever hearing of its kind, a Senate panel heard testimony this week on the psychological and human rights implications of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. While defenders of solitary confinement claim it is needed to control the most violent prisoners, many of the people called to testify at the hearing described how it can cause intense suffering and mental illness. We’re joined by Anthony Graves, a former Texas prisoner who was fully exonerated of a murder conviction after spending 18 years behind bars, the bulk of that time on death row and in solitary confinement, and by James Ridgeway, a veteran journalist and co-editor of Solitary Watch, a website that tracks solitary confinement and torture in American prisons. [includes rush transcript]

  • From Death Row to Exoneration: Fmr. Texas Prisoner Anthony Graves on Surviving Solitary Confinement

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    In a rare interview, former Texas death row prisoner Anthony Graves joins us to recount his experience in solitary confinement and how he was fully exonerated and released from prison in 2010. Graves was convicted in 1994 of assisting Robert Carter, a man he barely knew, in the brutal murders of six people. There was no physical evidence linking Graves to the crime, and his conviction relied primarily on Carter’s testimony. Before he was executed, Carter twice admitted he had lied about Graves’s involvement in the crime. In 2006, an appeals court overturned Graves’s conviction and ordered a new trial, saying prosecutors had elicited false statements and withheld testimony. After 18 years in prison, most of them on death row, Graves was exonerated and reunited with his family after a special prosecutor concluded he was an innocent man. Graves is now an active member of the movement to abolish the death penalty. "My experience was hell," Graves says. "I always liken it to something that you would consider to be your worst nightmare. I had to go through that experience every day for 18-and-a-half years. And it was just no way to live." Urging an end to the death penalty, Graves says: "They’re killing in your name. And I say to you, stand up and tell these people, 'Not in my name anymore.'" [includes rush transcript]

  • Dark Money: Will Secret Spending by a Group of Billionaires Decide the 2012 Election? (Pt. 1)

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    The 2012 presidential election is set to become the most expensive race in history, with spending projected to top $11 billion — more than double the 2008 total. It will be the first presidential election since the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United decision, which lifted a 63-year-old ban prohibiting corporations, trade associations and unions from spending unlimited amounts of money on political advocacy. We’re joined by reporter Andy Kroll and editor Monika Bauerlein of Mother Jones magazine, whose new cover story is "Follow the Dark Money." The article warns: "Super-PACs, seven-figure checks, billionaire bankrollers, shadowy nonprofits: This is the state of play in what will be the first presidential election since Watergate to be fully privately funded." Click here to watch Part 2 of the interview.[includes rush transcript]

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