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 Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, seen here at the 2019 SXSW Conference

 Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, seen here at the 2019 SXSW Conference, said in a tweet Wednesday that if former President Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort "is in fact not being held in solitary, great. Release everyone else from it too." (Photo: nrkbeta/flickr/cc)

Calling Solitary Confinement 'Government Torture,' Ocasio-Cortez Says 'Release Everyone'

In tweet commenting on upcoming "protective custody" of Paul Manafort, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez says prison sentences don't provide license to commit "human rights violations"

Andrea Germanos

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday reiterated her stance that solitary confinement is a violation of human rights and "government torture" and called for all people—including President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, should he be subjected to it—to be spared from such an abusive detention practice.

The comments began in morning tweet in which the New York Democrat responded to a New York Times tweet that said that Manafort, who's currently serving a federal sentence in Pennsylvania, would soon be heading to Rikers Island, "where he is likely to face solitary confinement." Ocasio-Cortez's 14th congressional district contains the notorious Rikers Island.

"A prison sentence is not a license for gov torture and human rights violations," Ocasio-Cortez wrote. "That's what solitary confinement is."

Manafort, the Times reported, "is expected to be transferred within the next few weeks to the Rikers Island jail complex in New York City, where he will most likely be held in isolation while facing state [mortgage] fraud charges." On the island, he would likely be housed in a former prison hospital; inmates there don't spend their day locked in cells, the reporting noted.

NBC News reported following Ocasio-Cortez's tweet, citing the New York City Department of Corrections, that "Manafort may be held in isolation for protective reasons, but that would not carry the same conditions as being held in solitary confinement, which is a punitive designation."

In follow-up tweet, Ocasio-Cortez said it was the Times's wording on social media—"where he is likely to face solitary confinement"—that triggered her first comment, and that the "protective custody" Manafort faces doesn't necessarily preclude solitary confinement.

But, Ocasio-Cortez added: "If he is in fact not being held in solitary, great. Release everyone else from it too."

It's not the first time this year Ocasio-Cortez called for banning solitary confinement. 

In April, she commented on the solitary that U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning was subjected to, most recently for refusing to answer a grand jury's questions.

"Solitary confinement is torture," Ocasio-Cortez said at the time. "Chelsea is being tortured for whistleblowing, she should be released on bail, and we should ban extended solitary in the U.S."


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