Kupers, Dr. Terry — Solitary Confinement: Locked Away with No Human Contact

 

An estimated 100,000 people are held in solitary confinement in the United States.  The conditions in which they live are abysmal.  They have little or no human contact.   Often they are kept in dark, cold, wet cells eight feet by 10 feet in size. Many suffer from mental illness prior to or as a result of solitary confinement.  This results in significant long term damage to the individuals and our society as a whole.

Dr. Terry Allen Kupers, a forensic psychiatrist, is the author of “Solitary: The Inside Story of Supermax Isolation and How We Can Abolish It”. In this first of a two part series on solitary confinement, Kupers shares interviews with prisoners who have been raped, subdued with immobilizing gas, beaten by prison guards and whose mental and physical health needs have been ignored.  He has found that prisoners of color are much more likely to be held in solitary confinement than are white prisoners.  Kupers argues that solitary confinement is tantamount to torture, and per se violates the constitutional prohibition of cruel or unusual punishment.

When Dr. Terry Kupers and I visit by phone from his home in Oakland, California on February 11, 2018, we began the first of two conversations when I asked him to define forensic psychiatry, and the background of solitary confinement.

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Ellsberg, Daniel — The Pentagon Papers and The Post

“The Post” a movie released January 12, 2018, reveals the story of how the release of the “Pentagon Papers” created a fundamental challenge of the freedom of the press and alleged issues of national security.  Few moments in American history have held the tension of the Vietnam war, as was the case in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The national rupture caused by Nixon’s escalation of the war widened.  Young people and their parents, who saw no reason for the United States to be in Vietnam clashed with the so called “silent majority.”

Daniel Ellsberg, our guest in this 1997 archive edition of Radio Curious, copied what came to be known as the “Pentagon Papers,” in the fall of 1969, and released them in 1971.  Those top secret documents unequivocally demonstrated that four previous U.S. presidents had continued to fight and escalate the war in Vietnam, notwithstanding opinions from their many military leaders that the war could not be won.

The “Pentagon Papers” focused national attention on United States foreign policy and on our rights as individual citizens to freedom of the press.  When Daniel Ellsberg and I visited by phone in March, 1997, he began with a description of the context of the time, 1971,  when the “Pentagon Papers” became public.

The book Ellsberg recommended in 1997, when this interview was recorded, is “Our War,” by David Harris.

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Massey, Orell — The Impact of Martin Luther King, Jr. on One Man

To assist in the consideration of the impact of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the United States, I invited my friend Orell Massey to join us again here at Radio Curious.  In February 2014, when Massey first visited us he shared his experiences as the first and, so far, the only black law enforcement officer in the history of Mendocino County, California.  Prior to becoming a Deputy Sheriff here 23 years ago, Massey served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was primarily assigned to the Foreign Service Embassy detail. A native of rural South Carolina, he suffered under the cloud, terror, threats and fears brought on by racial segregation throughout his childhood and early adult years before joining the Marine Corps.   Now, he continues to work part time as a Mendocino County Deputy Sheriff, since his retirement in 2017. 

When Orell Massey visited the Radio Curious studios on January 14, 2018, we focused on the effect that Martin Luther King, Jr. had on his life.

The Civil Rights song featured is “Can’t Turn Me ‘Round” performed by The Roots.

The book Orell Massey recommends is “I Never Had it Made: An Autobiography of Jackie Robinson,”  by Jackie Robinson and Alfred Duckett.  

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Spriggs, Kent — Legal Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement

In all successful social and political changes in here in the the United States and elsewhere, civil disobedience plays a significant role. Bus boycotts, sit-ins and marches, coordinated with constitution based legal challenges to blatant racially based restrictions imposed by the white supremacy in the American south, were at the core of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

Our guest in this edition of Radio Curious is Attorney Kent Spriggs, the editor of “Voices of Civil Rights Lawyers: Reflections from the Deep South, 1964-1980.”  Spriggs compiled the voices of 26 lawyers, black and white, from the south and the north who began their law practices in the mid-1960s and successfully ended significant aspects of the then existing racial segregation. They describe their backgrounds and provide context for their civil rights litigation and other basic legal rights, as well as how their successes later advanced other movements for social justice.

Kent Spriggs, raised in Washington, D.C. went to the Deep South in 1965 after finishing law school in New York.  He has been a Civil Rights lawyer since he arrived there over 50 years ago. Spriggs, now a resident and former mayor of Tallahassee, Florida, and I visited by phone from his home office on December 4, 2017.  We began our conversation when I asked him to describe the contributors and some of their stories in “Voices of Civil Rights Lawyers.”

The three books Kent Spriggs recommends are: “The Shock Doctrine,” by Naomi Klein; “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations about Race,” by Beverly Daniel Tatum; and “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarcertion in the Age of Color Blindness,” by Michelle Alexander and Cornel West.  

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Scott, Jack — Harvesting Redwood Trees, Without a Chain Saw

The California coastal redwood trees are some of the oldest living things in the world. Other than cutting the tree down, the best way to determine their age, or the age of any tree is with an incremental borer.  That’s a long narrow tube twisted into the tree from the bark to the pitch at the center of the tree.  A small finger-size “wooden rod” is removed revealing one line which represents one tree ring is then removed and counted.  Each tree ring represents one year of the tree’s life.  

Though few old growth redwood forests exist now, some of the remaining redwoods are estimated to be close to 2000 years old.  Although that is easy to say, it is beyond my ken to fathom.

96 year old Jack Scott of Ukiah, California, is our guest on this edition of Radio Curious.  In 1936 before the era of the chain-saw, Scott harvested old growth redwoods beginning at 15 years old.  Part of the harvest process was to push and then pull one end of a two-person hand-saw. When Scott visited the Radio Curious studios on November 12, 2017, we began when I asked him to describe working in the woods at that time.

The books Jack Scott recommends are those written by Louis Lamore.  

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Best, George — John Brown and Harper’s Ferry

Harper’s Ferry National Park is located at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers in the easternmost corner of what is now West Virginia. This tiny national park, just over a square mile in size, is the location of the 1859 raid led by John Brown, a white abolitionist.  Outraged by the sustained existence of slavery in southern United States, Brown and his armed supporters snuck across the river at night attempting to take over of the government arsenal, arm the nearby enslaved people and foment a revolt.  Brown’s intended efforts were ultimately unsuccessful and resulted in his conviction for treason and death by hanging.  Nonetheless he foreshadowed the growing discontent of slavery that would lead to the civil war.

I joined Ranger George Best on October 12, 2017, for a tour and stories, which began at the 1848 now defunct armory amid background sounds of the rivers, railroads and other machinery  He begins with a description of the Foundry, Harper’s Ferry largest building.

The books George Best recommends are: “A Walker’s Guide to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia,” by Dave Gilbert, “The Strange Story of Harper’s Ferry” by Joseph Berry, and “Harpers Ferry Under Fire” by Dennis Fryer.  

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Janov, Dr. Arthur and Dr. France — Remembering the Debunked “Primal Scream” Founder

In this edition of Radio Curious we re-visit our December 2006 interview with Dr. Arthur Janov, author of “The Primal Scream”  who died on October 1, 2017, at his home in Malibu, California.  A detailed obituary may be found in the October 4, 2017, on line edition of the New York Times.

Together with his wife, Dr. France Janov, they asserted that the best emotional healing is obtained by reaching back to the point of injury that formed an initial imprint of the pain, claiming that pain often originates in the womb or in early childhood. Their work centered on a belief that repeated piercing screams focused on early trauma would free a person of physical and psychological pain. 

Their therapeutic method has been repeatedly debunked and discredited by colleagues and the psychiatric establishment, as described in the journal “Professional Psychology: Research and Practice,” and the American Psychiatric Association. The criticism focused on the lack of any independent, controlled studies demonstrating the Janov therapy’s effectiveness.  Janov also listed homosexuality among the ailments that primal therapy could “cure,” and continued to list it long after the American Psychiatric Association declassified it as a psychiatric disorder in 1973.Nonetheless, his patients included John Lennon, Yoko Ono, James Earl Jones and the pianist Roger Williams.

I spoke with Dr. Arthur Janov and Dr. France Janov, in December 2006, from their home in Santa Monica, California, and began when I asked them to explain how initial imprints in a person’s life can be the cause of lifelong pain.

The books Dr. Arthur Janov recommended are:  “Hostile Takeover: How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government–And How We Take It Back,” by Davod Sirota, and “Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq,” by Steven Kinzer. 

The books Dr. France Janov recommended are: “Matisse,”  by Volkmar Essers, and “Puccini: A Biography” by Mary Jane Phillips-Matz and William Weaver.

This program was recorded on December 16, 2006.  

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Von Drehle, David — Triangle, the Fire that Changed America

Until September 11, 2001, The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of March 25, 1911 was the deadliest workplace disaster in the history of New York City.  The fire shocked the nation and exposed the life-threatening conditions in America’s sweatshop industry.  It gave energy to the labor movement and unions, and remade the Democratic Party of the time.

Our guest, David Von Drehle, is the author of “Triangle, the Fire That Changed America,” a book that presents a detailed examination of how this single event changed the course of the 20th century politics and labor relations. In this book, Von Drehle concludes:

“As for the mostly nameless young women and men who went on strike in 1909 and bravely walked those relentless picket lines through a freezing winter—and especially those remarkable young people who later died at the Triangle—their memory grows.  Their individual lives are mostly lost to us, but their monument and legacy are stitched into our world.”

David Von Drehle and I visited by phone from New York City in early September 2003, and began with his description of the fire on March 25, 1911 that changed America.

The book David Von Drehele recommends is “Plunkitt of Tammany Hall” by William Riordan.

This program was originally broadcast on September 9, 2003.

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A Visit with Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Frederick Douglass

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Frederick Douglass were good friends from the mid 19th century to the late 19th century, and were active leaders in the fight for the rights of women and blacks throughout their lives.  From time to time they got together to visit and talk about America, as they knew it. In this archive edition of Radio Curious recorded in May 1998, I met with Chautauqua scholars Sally Roesch Wagner and Charles Pace who portrayed Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Frederick Douglass. We began our conversation when I asked them each to tell us what it was like to be an American during their life time.

The book Frederick Douglass recommends is, “The Columbian Orator: Containing a Variety of Original and Selected Pieces Together With Rules, Which Are Calculated to Improve Youth and Others, in the Ornamental and Using Art of Eloquence” by Caleb Bingham. The book Charles Pace recommends is, “W. E. B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868 to 1919,” by David Levering Lewis.

The book Elizabeth Cady Stanton recommends is, “The Woman’s Bible” edited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The book Sally Wagner recommends is, “The Homesteader: A Novel,” by Oscar Micheaux. 

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Adams, Dr. Francis — Are We Still Racist?

“Alienable Rights: The Exclusion of African Americans in a White Man’s Land, 1619 to 2000” is a book in part written by Francis Adams, an independent scholar living in Los Angeles, California. The book posits that the drive for equal rights for black people in the United States has never had the support of the majority of America. Rather, racial progress has been made in brief historic bursts, lead by the committed militant minorities of abolitionists, radical republicans, and civil rights activists.

Dr. Francis Adams and I began our conversation when I asked him to explain the importance of the trial of James Somerset that took place in England in 1772.

The book that Dr. Francis Adams recommends is: “Collapse,” by Jared Diamond.

Originally Broadcast: January 29, 2005.

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