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Just over 20 years ago, Caron Butler accepted a scholarship offer to play basketball for the legendary Coach Jim Calhoun at UConnPower Hoops College. He was an outstanding talent with a solid future ahead of him. But it was followed by an unpleasant past, consisting of many arrests and many arrested. “serious mistakes“He willingly tries…
When he was a teenager in Racine, Wisconsin.Butler was sentenced to 18 months in prison on charges of possession of drugs and firearms. There he got into a fight and ended up in solitary confinement. for two weeks. It’s 23 hours a day no one to talk to, nothing to read, nothing to look at. Nothing but Butler and his thoughts in a cramped prison cell.
He was then only 15 years old.
“From these four walls and these four corners, he does something to you,” Butler told The Associated Press… “Mentally and spiritually it takes a lot. This is inhuman. “
Now he turns his experience into political action.
“Solitary trauma, physical and mental,” Butler recently wrote in Hartford Courant an article urging Connecticut lawmakers to pass the PROTECT Act, State Bill 1059, which would partially end the use of solitary confinement for prisoners, except in emergencies.
In a newspaper article, Butler also mentioned the motive for solitary confinement: punishment, not rehabilitation. “Locked 23 hours a day. Cut off from all social contacts. Denied access to family and community ties that remind you of who you are and who you can become. I got the message loud and clear. Our goal is not to rehabilitate you. We are trying to break you. “
But today the former Husky and current Miami Heat assistant coach was in Hartford to push for an end to solitary confinement in state prisons.
Neighboring New York and neighboring New Jersey have already passed similar legislation.
In addition to the political activist Angela Davis patch, Butler wore the People, Not Prisons badge and another Stop Solitary CT button.
Barbara Fair, the group’s lead organizer, said AP that having a person like Butler could be useful for a campaign to end solitary confinement. “This is someone people can connect with,” Fair said of the basketball player and coach. “The biggest problem in our prison systems is that it is often difficult for people to become familiar with the humanity of prisoners.”
“It’s important that you really look back,” Butler said during News conference at the Connecticut Capitol today. “You remember that experience and you remember people who are affected by some of the laws that are designed to violate you, dehumanize you, and put you in a position where you feel less human.”
SB 1059 was approved by the Connecticut Legislature last week. Now he is awaiting the signature of Governor Ned Lamont.
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