The contraband that Chelsea Manning was caught possessing was not a knife or a sharpened metal file or drugs. Yet she’s facing possible solitary confinement.
Chelsea’s alleged infraction was having a copy of Vanity Fair with Caitlyn Jenner on the cover and an expired tube of toothpaste. Manning is also charged with disorderly conduct and disrespect for mouthing off to guards and sweeping food off a table during a spat with prison guards in July.
UPI reports that the website Fight for the Future has launched an online petition campaign to try to influence Leavenworth authorities to make Chelsea Manning’s hearing open to the public.
The petition reflects the organization’s concern for Manning’s fate.
“Putting any human being in indefinite solitary confinement is inexcusable, and for offenses as trivial as these (an expired tube of toothpaste, and possessing magazines?) it is a discredit to America’s military and its system of justice.”
Manning has access to Twitter and has been tweeting about her situation. Celebrities like Susan Sarandon and human rights groups support Chelsea, who re-tweeted a message from Cosmo.
Now known as Chelsea Manning, the well-known inmate identifies as a female. A former intelligence analyst, Chelsea was convicted of espionage in 2013 for leaking classified documents and war videos in an attempt to expose the military’s activities to the public. Then known as Bradley Manning, she began serving 35 years at Fort Leavenworth.
Manning’s reading material has been confiscated, including a copy of the book I Am Malala and an issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.
The transgender inmate will have a hearing on August 18, when officials will determine whether Chelsea Manning will be punished by being locked up in solitary confinement indefinitely.
Chelsea’s lawyer Nancy Hollander feels that the charges seem to be an effort to silence Manning. Hollander spoke with the Associated Press.
“It is not uncommon in prisons to have charges that to the rest of us seem to be absurd. Prisons are very controlled environments and they try to keep them very controlled and sometimes in that control they really go too far and I think that this is going too far.”
Chelsea Manning, now 27, is a trans woman born as Bradley Manning, who was diagnosed with gender identity disorder. Manning began her sentence in 2013 for releasing classified materials to the whistle-blower site Wikileaks.
It was only after being sentenced that Manning tried to get hormone therapy and permission to live as a woman in prison. USA Today reports that it wasn’t until this year that the Army allowed Chelsea Manning to receive the treatment.
Chelsea Manning has become an activist and writes about transgender rights. Occasionally Manning contributes opinion pieces to The Guardian.
In a recent article, Manning spoke about how she felt when she was first arrested.
“I did expect to be demonized and targeted, to have every moment of my life re-examined and analyzed for every possible personal flaw and blemish, and to have them used against me in the court of public opinion or against transgender people as a whole.”
Prison officials seized Manning’s books and other materials that are vital to a writer. The specter of solitary confinement for Chelsea Manning for relatively small infractions inevitably raises questions of unfair treatment.
[Image Credited to Elians via Wikimedia Commons]