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The Knotted Line

Evan Bissell, Author

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1952: Spectacle of Punishment

1952: Final whipping occurs in a Delaware prison. Delaware is the last state to abolish the whipping post in 1972.

Actions for Self-Determination: 

  • 1997: Hundreds of people from all over California take car caravans to Corcoran Prison to protest the abuse of human rights there and to draw attention to human rights abuses in the United States.
  • 2011: Corcoran Secure Housing Unit (SHU) prisoners join Pelican Bay hunger strikers, who have a set of five demands. The prisoners are in solitary confinement, meaning (among other things) that they are alone in a room 23 hours a day. The protests raise public awareness of the conditions and begin to challenge the continued use of solitary confinement.

Discussion Questions:
  • How might solitary confinement help or not help someone reintegrate with society?
  • When someone has been suspended from school, how does this "right the wrong" that was committed? Do they usually return ready to come back to school?
  • Consider a time you have been punished. Was the punishment related to the harm you caused or rule you broke? Is this an important part of punishment?
  • Read through the striking prisoner's demands. Do you think SHU's could be considered cruel and unusual punishment?

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