Chelsea Manning facing "indefinite solitary confinement" for keeping expired toothpaste, magazines
Whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who is currently serving as 35-year sentence in prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, was threatened with indefinite solitary confinement for charges including the possession of magazines, books and a tube of expired toothpaste.
The four charges against Manning are: "disrespect", which includes a case where Manning asked for her lawyer in an interaction with a guard, "disorderly conduct", for sweeping food onto the ground during a meal, keeping "prohibited property" such as the issue of Vanity Fair featuring Caitlyn Jenner and a book by Malala Yousafzai, and "medicine misuse", which refers to a tube of expired toothpaste Manning was keeping in her cell. The possession of toothpaste is not against the rules of the prison. The charge relates to the fact that it was “past its expiration date of 9 April 2015”.
All of the reading material found in Manning's cell was confiscated, including an issue of Out Magazine and a copy of the Senate's report on US torture. It's unclear why this material was confiscated, as it was brought into the prison legally.
If found guilty, Manning could face an indefinite sentence in solitary confinement. A petition is circulating asking for the prison to drop the charges.
ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio, who is handling Manning's conflict with the military over her medical treatment as a trans woman, said, “Chelsea has a growing voice in the public discussion and it would not surprise me were these charges connected to who she is."
Facts about Solitary confinement:
In 2010, a census showed there are at least 11,150 people in solitary confinement across the country.
The average length of time people are left in solitary confinement is 6.8 years.
Solitary confinement has been found to have similar effects on the brain as physical torture or a brain injury. The New Yorker wrote in their feature on solitary confinement, "Without sustained social interaction, the human brain may become as impaired as one that has incurred a traumatic injury."
In 2011, the United Nations ruled that solitary confinement should never be used on juveniles, but 1 in 5 juvenile detention centers in the US employ seclusion cells.