Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump, is presently serving a federal sentence of more than 7 years in a prison in Pennsylvania. But this week, he’s being transferred to New York city’s Rikers Island jail complex while he awaits a trial date related to charges for financial crimes.
While he’s in NYC, Manafort will likely be placed within solitary confinement, Yahoo News reported.
That announcement received the condemnation from a surprising source: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democrat who represents the district where Rikers Island is located.
“A prison sentence is not a license for gov torture and human rights violations. That‘s what solitary confinement is,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet. “Manafort should be released, along with all people being held in solitary.”
Paul Manafort is being sent to solitary confinement in my district – Rikers Island.
A prison sentence is not a license for gov torture and human rights violations. That‘s what solitary confinement is.
Manafort should be released, along with all people being held in solitary. https://t.co/9rERLDSzrD
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 5, 2019
Later, when it was suggested to her that Manafort may be placed in protective custody, she reiterated her stance. “‘Protective custody’ IS a separate practice, but does not necessarily exclude solitary,” she wrote. “If he is in fact not being held in solitary, great. Release everyone else from it too.”
AOC’s consternation with sending Manafort to Rikers is consistent with her views on the practice of solitary confinement overall. She isn’t wrong on the issue — many experts agree that solitary can lead to a host of mental health problems, including producing what’s known as “prison psychosis,” which can lead to anxiety, depression, hallucinations, self-harm, and extreme paranoia, according to Psychology Today.
A United Nations report from 2011 even condemned the use of solitary confinement for more than 15 days, and said that it should be avoided whenever possible.
“Solitary confinement, [as a punishment] cannot be justified for any reason, precisely because it imposes severe mental pain and suffering beyond any reasonable retribution for criminal behavior and thus constitutes an act defined [as] … torture,” the report read.
Featured image: YouTube/Alexandria Detention Center