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In 1972, he was put in solitary confinement. He's been there since, but now there's hope.

If the goal is to bring an end to solitary confinement, this is a big step in the right direction.

For more than 40 years, Albert Woodfox has lived in solitary confinement at Louisiana State Penitentiary.

Originally convicted along with two others of armed robbery in 1971, Woodfox — who is now 68 years old — would later be accused and convicted of murdering one of the prison's guards.

After receiving a new sentence of life in prison, Woodfox was moved into solitary confinement, where he spent the next 43 years. In June of last year, an appeals court ordered Woodfox released from prison, citing a lack of evidence, only to have that decision reversed. In November, a federal appeals court ruled that Woodfox could be made to stand trial for a third time; his first two convictions were overturned.


In the meantime, he remains in solitary confinement, living out his days in a 6-foot-by-9-foot cell, punished for a crime he argues he did not commit. There's no telling what 43 years away from other people has done to him, and it's hard to imagine what sort of life he will have if and when he is released back into the world, having been away from it for so long.

There are a few things we know about solitary confinement — none of them good.

In 2011, the United Nations called on countries to do away with solitary confinement. The argument is that the mental abuse prisoners in solitary undergo as the result of their placement can amount to torture.

“Solitary confinement is a harsh measure which is contrary to rehabilitation, the aim of the penitentiary system,” said UN special rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez.

"Considering the severe mental pain or suffering solitary confinement may cause," he added, "it can amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment when used as a punishment, during pretrial detention, indefinitely or for a prolonged period, for persons with mental disabilities or juveniles."

A detainee makes a call from his "segregation cell" at the Adelanto Detention Facility in Adelanto, Califoria. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

We know studies have shown solitary confinement doesn't actually make anyone any safer. In fact, some find that people held in solitary confinement for extended periods of time actually become more likely to become violent.

We know that somewhere around 80,000 prisoners are being held in solitary confinement at any given time.

We know that it costs three times as much to house someone in solitary confinement than in the general population.

No matter how you look at it, keeping people in solitary confinement for extended periods of time simply doesn't make sense.

In July, President Obama ordered the Department of Justice to review the use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons.

He showed skepticism for the practice, calling it "not smart."

"I’ve asked my attorney general to start a review of the overuse of solitary confinement across American prisons," said Obama during a speech at the NAACP conference. "The social science shows that an environment like that is often more likely to make inmates more alienated, more hostile, potentially more violent. Do we really think it makes sense to lock so many people alone in tiny cells for 23 hours a day, sometimes for months or even years at a time?"

Obama meets with Attorney General Loretta Lynch in the Oval Office on May 29, 2015. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

The review has been completed, and the president is adopting its recommendations.

In an editorial from The Washington Post on Jan. 25, the president outlined exactly what that means:

  • Banning solitary confinement for juveniles
  • Banning solitary confinement as a punishment for "low-level infractions"
  • Reducing the amount of time inmates in solitary must stay in their cells
  • Expanding on-site mental health resources

By the president and Department of Justice's estimate, this will affect somewhere around 10,000 inmates.

It's stories like Woodfox's that makes Obama's latest action so huge.

It's rarely "necessary" to hold someone in solitary, and Obama's new guidelines clearly state that inmates should be "housed in the least restrictive setting necessary to ensure their own safety, as well as the safety of staff, other inmates, and the public."

The president's move doesn't go so far as to eliminate the use of solitary confinement, but it does set the framework for future reviews of the system, which could in turn bring an end to the practice.

For now, though, Woodfox remains in solitary, awaiting yet another trial and, perhaps, freedom.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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