Criminal Justice

Nobody Should Be Placed in Solitary Confinement—Not Even Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort isn’t deserving of torture. Neither was Kalief Browder.


A judge has ordered former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort to be transferred to the infamous Rikers Island Prison in New York City. Manafort could also face time in solitary confinement out of concern for his safety. Manafort's predicament presents a unique opportunity to have a conversation about a questionable prison tactic.

As previously reported, Manafort was convicted on charges related to tax evasion and fraud. He also ran into trouble for lying to the Department of Justice about fraud, money laundering, and his relationship with a foreign bank.

That hardly fits the bill of a hardened, violent criminal, as would be suggested by the judge's actions. His supporters are arguing the same. A source close to him said, "He's not a mob boss," in response to the news.

Neither was Kalief Browder, who spent three years at Rikers without ever seeing a trial. He was arrested by police after he was accused of stealing a backpack. Officers found nothing on his person and the accusations were later discovered to be dubious. Browder was subjected to violence by the guards and inmates, but experts believe the two years he spent in solitary confinement was the main factor that led to his 2015 suicide at the age of 22, about two years after his release.

Needless to say, there continues to be great hypocrisy in Manafort's case. Defenders of a harsher criminal justice system for average Americans have pitied Manafort. Others are saying the new development is "karma."

Scott Hechinger, public defender and policy director at Brooklyn Defender Services, wants those supporting the judge's decision in Manafort's case to see how turning a blind eye does a disservice to those like Browder.

"When we support pain, punishment, torture, harshness, pre-trial detention, solitary, guilt until proven innocent for one—no matter how much we might despise them or think they 'deserve it'—we further entrench an unjust system for all," he tweeted.

Any personal feelings of Manafort should be set aside to speak out against torture. And those with new thoughts on humanity behind bars should similarly be concerned that this is a reality for tens of thousands of Americans each year.

NEXT: Pirates, Pot, and Police: The Supreme Court Has Been Busy

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  1. Confinement authorities cannot win.

    Put a guy in solitary- its torture!
    Keep a guy in general population- you’re risking his life!

    There really is only one other place to put him and that is protective custody which is full of snitches and sex offenders. I bet Manafort knows enough about how things work to know that he does not want to be put in with sex offenders who rape other men.

    1. Non-excessive bail for all defendants awaiting trial is the main solution to harsh jail conditions for pre-trial detainees.

      As for convicted persons, prison can be harsh. One solution is if the state had less criminal laws (especially for drug offenses), so there would be less people in prison.

      On that note: less laws would mean that a larger portion of prison populations would be the worst of the worst as far as criminals go. Petty criminals would likely spend their time in jails for misdemeanors while the prisons would be reserved for very dangerous persons.

      1. Clearly they should all be incarcerated one way or the other, but it should also be pointed out that some people classified as “petty criminals” ought to be considered dangerous. Also, sometimes it’s difficult to know which class a crime belongs to, which is why the authorities here in New York had so much difficulty figuring out how to charge our nation’s leading criminal “parodist.” Ultimately we managed to pick five or six different crimes out of the book that seemed to be adaptable enough to the circumstances, but unfortunately some of the charges, despite the very clear evidence in the case, were found “unconstitutional” or “speculative.” What remains a pity, however, is that the perpetrator was allowed to remain at large, for solitary confinement at Rikers is precisely the most fitting punishment for trolls and criminal “satirists” who cause mayhem here at NYU and in other universities around the nation. See the documentation at”

    2. “Put a guy in solitary- its torture!
      Keep a guy in general population- you’re risking his life!”

      Manafort was already perfectly safe and going nowhere in a federal prison. Normally when federal prisoners are indicted on state charges, they are left in federal custody until the eve of trial.

      Manafort is being treated differently because Trump.

      1. “Manafort is being treated differently because Trump.”

        So are immigrants. Manafort punched his own ticket. Perhaps a strong dose of unpampered prison would mend his unrepentant, mendacious ways.

        1. You fucking cock-sucking piece of shit.

          1. Open wider, Robert S.

            Your betters have more progress to be shaped against your preferences. And you will comply.

    3. The problem is that Ryker’s Island is inappropriate for this criminal. Minimum security prison is much more appropriate. People may scoff at it for being luxury country club coddling, but really, don’t put someone convicted of tax fraud in with the rapists and murderers.

      They’re not a danger to anyone, don’t lock them up in a prison meant for dangerous people. Heck, house arrest without access to the internet (harder and harder these days).

      1. Manafort is more than a tax cheat. He pretended to cooperate with the government while feeding information to other suspects. He also offended at an egregious scale, repeatedly, and in unrepentant. I hope he enjoys his stay in a real prison, where he belongs.

        1. You really are a dangerous slack jawed moron.

          1. Even out of character he’s far, far, far too stupid to be dangerous to anyone but himself.

          2. He’s just cranky because he ran out of butthurt salve. So he’s reduced to beating his tiny fists against the wall and wailing “Hillary’s the real president! She is! She is! She is!”

            1. Manafort is paying the price now.

              Trump fans will start to get theirs in a couple of years.

              See you later . . . from the right side of history, clingers.

              1. “When we support pain, punishment, torture, harshness, pre-trial detention, solitary, guilt until proven innocent for one—no matter how much we might despise them or think they ‘deserve it’—we further entrench an unjust system for all,”
                – unless they’re team Trump, then fuck ’em- right, “Reverend”?

        2. >>>He pretended to cooperate with the government while feeding information to other suspects.

          good on him?

        3. What was he convicted of? That’s all that should matter in punishment. But as a statist, vindicative moron, you don’t understand that.

  2. Solitary confinement vs. living among homicidal ass rapers. Like a choice between a giant douche or a turd sandwich.

    1. If I had to rank them, it would look like this:

      General Population
      Solitary Confinement
      Protective Custody

      Isn’t protective custody where things supposedly get really nasty? These are convicted child molesters, rapists, and others who can’t be in the general population because they’d get killed for their crimes. You should only want to get locked up with them if you have no chance of surviving in general population. Getting locked up with a bunch of perverts who need to be protected from the general population has got to be the worst.

      Extra Credit:

      Brian got busted on a narco rap
      He beat the rap by rattin’ on some bikers
      He said, hey, I know it’s dangerous
      But it sure beats Riker’s
      But the next day he got offed
      By the very same bikers

  3. Manafort should be under house arrest, perhaps for a very long time (10+ years? Easy for a guy with his resources). We should only lock up people who are legitimately a danger to others. It doesn’t take a genius to figure this out.

    Did a person commit violence on another? Is it possible they will commit violence again? Put them in prison.

    Did this person break a law, but there is no victim? Was it a non-violent crime? Then they should be fined or otherwise ordered to remain in their house. Obviously if someone cannot be trusted to remain in their house, they go to prison.

    Too many people see prison as a punishment. It IS punitive of course, but it shouldn’t be used PRIMARILY as a form of punishment. This idea we must lock up every single person who breaks a law has perverted the concept of jailing people. It has made the act of putting men in cages seem routine and normal. It is appalling.

    1. “Manafort should be under house arrest, perhaps for a very long time (10+ years? Easy for a guy with his resources). We should only lock up people who are legitimately a danger to others. It doesn’t take a genius to figure this out.”

      Good luck with the effort to persuade more than a few percent of Americans that this argument is sound.

    2. But it took 35 federal agents with body armor, automatic weapons, and air, land, and sea support to take him in!

      …oh wait – that was Roger Stone.
      My bad.
      Leaving it there because while it might not be factually correct, its morally factual…

      1. We have a soft police state and it becomes more and more evident every time we shine light on the criminal justice system.

        SWAT teams to arrest “white collar” suspects? Whomever thought this would be a good idea should be fired from the police force/FBI.

  4. This is about a prosecutor using the threat of physical violence – a trip to Rykers Island – to get a convicted person to roll over on someone else higher on the prosecutorial ladder. If threatened with rape and/or murder from the other inmates of Rykers or spending his life in solitary, perhaps Manafort can be induced to sing about Trump. He may even be inspired to make stuff up to get out of the fix the state prosecutor is putting him in.
    Thank goodness we do not resort to torture like Medieval courts.

    1. Yup. That’s exactly what’s going on here.

      1. Yes and reason somehow doesn’t want to notice that.

        1. Manafort was an egregious, systematic, longstanding offender. When caught, he lied about cooperating with the government, and was caught again. Perhaps some time in a genuine prison will mend his mendacious ways. Or not. Either way, he is a poor candidate for sympathy.

          That he was a profiteer in the misery market, a mouthpiece and enforcer for ugly and authoritarian bosses, makes his current posting even more fitting.

          1. And that’s why you are outraged that his business partner and compatriot Tony Podesta got immunity from prosecution in exchange for testimony right, you righteous crusader for justice?

            1. If Podesta did what Manafort did, he should be treated similarly.

              1. He did do what Manafort did. He just chose the wrong politician to back.

    2. +10

  5. I always think I’d rather be in solitary. Is there something about I’m missing that makes it so much more horrible than hanging around violent criminals?

    1. It is supposed to have a deleterious effect on one’s mind after a certain period of time. That said, many people have done long stretches in solitary and come out fine so…¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      1. OMG! Different people can be different? Somebody tell Myers and Briggs!

    2. Go look up statistics on the number of prisoners kept in long term solitary confinement that commit suicide.

      1. It is horrible. But, what do you do to deter prisoners who already are serving life from victimizing others when you don’t have the death penalty?

        Solitary confinement is used way too much by the prison system. There is no question about that. But, if you want to eliminate it entirely, then you better be prepared to bring back the death penalty because that is the only way other than solitary to deter some people.

        1. “But, what do you do to deter prisoners who already are serving life from victimizing others when you don’t have the death penalty?”

          And it might be justifiable for such people. But how does Manafort fall into that category?

          1. He doesn’t. I agree with you on that.

          2. If Manafort wants to be placed in the general population, I believe he should be permitted that privilege.

        2. Many, many States have the death penalty. The biggest problem I have with the death penalty is that, by the time it is applied, the convict is helpless. It’s like the cops shooting someone after they’ve been disarmed.

      2. As opposed to murder? Or suicide after rape?

        1. It’s not clear that being murdered or raped is the alternative to solitary confinement, certainly not for someone who isn’t famous or is Paul Manafort’s age.

          It’s a lot like on the playground when you’re a kid. If you’re someone who’s easily bullied, chances are you’ll have it worse than someone fights back. If they can easily steal from you, deprive you of your privileges, use you for sex, etc., then that’s what they’ll do. People who aren’t baby-faced anymore and will stand up for themselves don’t have as much to worry about.

          Meanwhile, have you ever had to spend five hours in traffic court or at the DMV? Did it seem like torture? Imagine if you couldn’t leave the DMV for a year. Now imagine that you couldn’t talk to anyone for a year, too. Yeah, I think that’s torture.

          When I was in boarding school, it was coed, which led to all sorts of interesting opportunities–and interesting rules. If you were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time with your girlfriend, they’d put you on Social Probation, which meant that you weren’t allowed to talk to each other for a certain period of time. This was before the days of cell phones. Sometimes, if you’d already been on SP once, they might say that you couldn’t talk to any of the girls on campus. Just that alone was grueling.

          This guy’s experience was apparently excruciating:

    3. Depending on your psychological makeup, social isolation can be very debilitating. Personally, I think a couple months with no humans around sounds like a vacation. But I peg the needle on the introvert scale. For other people, that can be as bad or worse than physical torture. Look, for example, at the case studies of battered women who stay with their abusers because it’s less bad than being alone.

      1. Yeah I definitely lean introvert. It gets worse the older I get too.

  6. >>>Any personal feelings of Manafort

    tax evasion and fraud against fedgov. i’d throw him a parade.

    1. Those are crimes to be sure. They are not crimes, however, that justify him spending the rest of his life in prison. Indeed, the only reason he is and the only reason that NY is bothering to prosecute a case that was already tried and ended in conviction by the feds is because Manfort is caught up in a political vendetta against Trump.

      It is nice of reason to notice him being thrown in solitary. It would be even nicer for them to notice the dangerous and corrupt precident his being at Reikers at all is setting. But, I suppose that is just too much to expect because Orange Man bad or something.

      1. You figure prosecutors who became aware of Manafort’s crimes would have refrained from prosecution had he not aligned with Trump? That seems daft.

        1. nobody would have become “aware of Manafort’s crimes” had he not aligned w/T

          1. Actually they were already aware of Manafort, and most of k street, and had declined to prosecute prior to trump.

            1. they maybe … not you/me

        2. His business partner who was complicit in every one of his crimes got immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony. Oddly, he is the brother of Clinton crony and Democratic bundler John Podesta. But yeah that’s daft alright. Almost as daft as your retrograde performance art.

          1. Was Manafort prosecuted by a Democratic administration or a Republican adminstration? Most of the wingnut squealing dissolves when examined in context.

            1. Love how you continue to prove ignorance day after day. The political appointees of the DoJ are few. The base members of the DoJ do not change political alignment between presidents. The majority of the DoJ, for those who do, donate to Democrats.

              Stop making Jeff look smart by comparison.

            2. So Trump should have interfered in the special counsel investigation. This is why the idea obstruction of justice by the president for firing is ridiculous. If there is no accountability on the political realm who can correct such injustice.

  7. It is probably only because he is being put into solitary that his life in prison won’t be measured in days. This is a clear tactic by the prosecutor to intimidate Manafort into doing whatever is necessary to avoid being done in by unpaid assassins.
    His trial depended largely on the testimony that he had to have known all about what was being done with his finances – testimony by a man who boasted of stealing money from Manafort without being caught.

    1. His trial and the entire case is a farce. But the rules don’t apply here because he was associated with Trump. Remember that the next time reason is waxing poetic about their “principles”.

      1. The evidence against Manafort seemed enough to convict three people. That might be why (1) a jury convicted him and (2) he entered a plea of guilty.

      2. the rules don’t apply here because he was associated with Trump

        If Manafort had worked for Hillary you’d be calling for the death penalty, you unprincipled partisan weasel.

        1. Poor Blowhard troll.

  8. The only people who should be in solitary confinement are those who choose to do so and and those vile telemarketers.

  9. Manafort is the architect of his own suffering. I feel sorry for him. I hope he decides to tell the truth. I hope he repents. I hope he acknowledges the people who suffer under the despots he empowered. He is being treated just as he treated others.

    1. It is cute that you think you “know the truth” and that Manfort It never occurs to you that you might be wrong. I feel sorry for you. I hope you decide to get smarter or if not you at least never serve on a jury or have any position of authority over anyone’s life.

      1. Manafort led an ugly life, committed severe crimes, got caught, abused a cooperation agreement, pled guilty. He deserves everything that is coming to him. And probably more.

        1. Sounds pretty bad. He should probably be locked up in the next cell with somebody who authorized the extrajudicial drone murder of an American citizen and his 16 year old son.

          1. Carry on, clingers. On the losing end of the culture war, of course.

            1. You keep saying that, like you’re some kind of uneducated drone who never heard of “pendulum” or “overreach”. Like some kind of idiot who doesn’t understand that things like “postpartum abortion” or “second string male calls himself a woman, blows away the competition” results in push back. Yup, y’all winning the culture war, everywhere that’s New York or California.

  10. No news here, this is about taking down Trump the New York way.

  11. Manafort is an egregious, unrepentant, mendacious offender. He belongs at Rikers.

    I believe he should not be placed in solitary confinement, however, unless (1) prison officials conclude he is such a pussy that he must be protected and (2) Manafort consents.

    1. Being the only person imprisoned in the Mueller fiasco that you proclaimed was going to take down a president, Manafort has become the object of your impotent rage. Pathetic.

      1. Roger Stone’s turn in the barrel seems near.

      2. +10

        That’s why he is the Kirkland troll.

        We got him from Volokh.

  12. Dude, how we s’posed to do the MAGA dance without cracking a few bones and frying a few brains? Freedom isn’t free. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the torture. Right is might.

    1. This is not revenge at all.

      Of course this is not an attempt by Lefties who run a corrupt NY State to pressure Manafort to lie about Trump.


  13. I was incarcerated by the U.S. Army for what amounts to a misdemeanor violation of the UCMJ in Mannheim Germany when I was 21. I asked to be left in solitary for my entire (admittedly quite short) sentence. One of the post trial detainees at that time was a chaplain who had raped 22 men. He was awaiting transport to Levanworth. I was serving thirty days. I didn’t want to go into general pop with a guy like that. I’d rather lose my sanity than my anal virginity. Probably a concept most Reason authors cannot understand.

  14. I worked in close custody (maximum security) prison for almost two years. Inmates were one to a cell and confined to their cells for most of the day, but they got free periods for dayroom, gym and yard as well as meals in the chow hall, work, chapel and classes. So, it wasn’t great, but they had time for social activities and exercise. We had one unit for seg but you had to violate a rule to get sent there, most commonly that was for fighting.

    As others have pointed out, when you have a population that has already shown a predisposition for violence how are you supposed to control them for further violence if you can’t segregate them? Some of our prisoners were able to work their way up to a minimum custody prison where they slept in a common area and they have a lot of privileges other prisoners don’t (including going out to work in public). It’s all incentives; follow the rules and be rewarded or violate them and be punished.

  15. First off, I don’t think a person like this deserves too harsh of punishment…

    That said, I do believe in the idea of making TRUE criminals suffer for their crimes. I would have no problem letting a child rapist/murderer rot in solitary up until the time they are executed.

    This all hinges on having a just court system of course, which ours is faaaar from perfect. But hypothetically if one has a good system, and everybody in prison is guilty, I don’t mind harsh punishment.

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