Federal whistleblower Ellen Gallagher has been decrying the use of solitary confinement on individuals in immigration detention for a decade, but little has changed to date despite her beyond courageous efforts. Today, a report, found here, co-authored by Katherine Peeler at Harvard Medical School, along with others at Harvard Medical School, Harvard Law School, and Physicians for Human Rights, amplifies the message that Ellen Gallagher has brought to attention, namely that US immigration authorities routinely lock thousands of people in solitary confinement and flout international human rights standards in its sprawling network of immigration detention facilities.
Many news outlets, such as this one, have reported the release of Dr. Peeler’s report.
I am beyond ecstatic that the use of solitary confinement in immigration detention is now in the open air and I completely support calls for reform.
Kudos to my friends, colleagues, and sometime co-authors (lucky me!), Katie Peeler and Ellen Gallgaher, for their tireless efforts to expose and report this travesty of justice and all norms of human rights.
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“Professor J Wesley Boyd works as part of the faculty at the Center for Bioethics and is an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He spoke to The Mirror about Smith’s upcoming execution, and what the convict could experience as he is suffocated using nitrogen gas.
“87 per cent of the air that we breathe is nitrogen and 21 per cent is oxygen, so nitrogen is by no means a foreign substance for us,” he explained. “When one is executed by nitrogen hypoxia, they are breathing only nitrogen with no oxygen whatsoever, and because they are deprived of oxygen they suffocate.”
The state has maintained that the nitrogen gas, which will be administered through a mask placed over Smith’s face, will cause him to quickly lose consciousness before he dies from a lack of oxygen. However, with this being the first execution using this method, many have compared Smith to a “guinea pig” as much of what’s known about nitrogen hypoxia comes from medical journal records about industrial accidents and suicide attempts, not executions.
Looking at what Smith’s experience will be like, Professor Boyd said: “The short answer is that we don’t know what dying by nitrogen hypoxia will be like because it is novel and untested in humans as a means of execution. As a result, it might be incredibly painful and/or distressing, and to my knowledge, there is no scientific evidence to suggest otherwise.”
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Baylor College of Medicine has a podcast called Resonance in which I was recently a guest. Their description of the show is:
“Dr. Wesley Boyd will share the milestones in his career that have accumulated into his current work in bioethics, humanities, human rights, and psychiatry. We will learn about the events that led him to co-found the Human Rights and Asylum Clinic at Cambridge Health Alliance. From there, we will discuss his continuous involvement in the advocacy of asylum seekers and the impact of his work on ensuring immigrants’ and asylum seekers’ plea for refuge and medical care is heard and answered.”
After saving all of my photos–ironically, seeing vacation photos was why I joined many years ago–I left Facebook roughly a month ago. Several years ago during a visit in Nashville, my former teacher Larry Churchill was decrying so many of Facebook’s predatory practices and he said something to the effect of “I’d run from that platform.” His words continued to resonate with me over the years and last month it was just time for me to go.
I joined Twitter about a decade ago when the publisher of my book Almost Addicted said I needed to be on Twitter to help promote the book. From the jump I was an ambivalent user at most who’d been thinking that I might sign off. When Elon Musk bought Twitter that just about sealed the deal in and of itself.
Alas, I quit Twitter yesterday, after seeing a Washington Post article on Elon Musk in which Musk was quoted as saying, “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci.” How many different ways is that statement just plain hideous?
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Monica Malowney and I have written about how absurdly difficult it is to access behavioral healthcare in the U.S. many times over the years. It’s so absurd that comedians keep quoting our research, including 2 of my absolute favorites Hasan Minaj and now John Oliver (about 14 minutes in)!
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Physician health programs (PHPs) have way more power than most MDs know and physicians who are referred to PHPs usually have to do anything and everything PHPs tell them if they want to continue to practice medicine. MDs who object generally have little or no means of appealing PHP recs. If more folks were aware of standard PHP practices I think there’d be a large public outcry. Increasing awareness about PHPs is one of the reasons I keep writing about them and also why I did this podcast with KevinMD