Chelsea found guilty of prison infractions, but no solitary confinement

August 18, 2015

By the Chelsea Manning Support Network

We just heard from Chelsea following her hearing today before the Fort Leavenworth disciplinary board:

“I was found guilty of all 4 charges @ today’s board; I am receiving 21 days of restrictions on recreation–no gym, library or outdoors.”

So while she was convicted of all four charges (yes, even the expired toothpaste!), she did not receive any time in solitary confinement. We believe that had everything to do with the outpouring of support, and the attention focused on Fort Leavenworth… including the 100,000 folks who signed the petition organized by Fight for the Future.

Chelsea added, “Now these convictions will follow me thru to any parole/clemency hearing forever. Was expecting to be in min custody in Feb, now years added.”

So, this is good news, but not without significant ramifications.

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Chelsea threatened with indefinite solitary confinement

From chelseamanning.org:
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August 12, 2015

Aside from her 35-year prison sentence, Chelsea Manning is now facing indefinite solitary confinement to be determined in a hearing next Tuesday, August 18.

Worse yet, Chelsea faces this incomprehensibly severe punishment as a result of ridiculously innocuous institutional offenses, including the possession of books and magazines related to politics and LBGTQ issues (which she received openly via the prison mail system), and having a tube of toothpaste that was past its expiration date (apparently deemed “medical mis-use”). The catalyst for this attack on Chelsea seems to have been an incident in the mess hall where she may have pushed, brushed, or accidentally knocked, a small amount of food off of her table. She then asked to speak to her lawyer when confronted by a guard. The absurd charges were tacked on later.

These charges obviously could never justify indefinite solitary confinement- one of worst forms of psychological torture. Chelsea is now regularly publishing op-eds in the Guardian newspaper, and recently won the ability to begin hormone therapy by threatening to sue the military. It’s clear this is an attempt to silence Chelsea’s voice.

Our friends at Fight for the Future (FFTF) have created a petition where you can sign on to a letter condemning the US Army’s treatment of Chelsea.

As FFTF notes, this is a disturbing attempt to silence Chelsea’s voice. Chelsea has been very active while in prison, speaking out through her twitter account about issues of government transparency, transgender rights, and the prison system. She’s been writing a regular column for The Guardian, and even wrote a bill to reform the Espionage Act and protect journalism.These absurd charges against Chelsea, and the outrageous threat of indefinite solitary confinement, are clearly an attempt to silence Chelsea’s important voice and cut her off from the outside world.We have to make sure this attempt to silence Chelsea not only fails, but backfires. Fight for the Future has created a petition to let the U.S. government know that the whole world is watching, and we won’t stand by while they jail and torture whistleblowers who stand up for democracy and free speech. Sign and share this petition right now!

Chelsea requested that her hearing be open to the press- but she was denied. If it’s not open to the public and the press, there will be no way to ensure that Chelsea isn’t unfairly subjected to one of the worst forms of psychological torture.

Below is an actual list of the charges that were sent to Chelsea (emphasis added).

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Here’s the list of books and magazines that were taken from Chelsea and not returned: Vanity Fair issue with Caitlyn Jenner on the cover, Advocate, OUT Magazine, Cosmopolitan issue with an interview of Chelsea, Transgender Studies Quarterly, novel about trans issues “A Safe Girl to Love,” book “Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy — The Many Faces of Anonymous,” book “I Am Malala,” 5 books by Robert Dorkin, legal documents including the Senate Torture Report, book: “Hidden Qualities that Make Us Influential.”

“Given the materials that were confiscated, it is concerning that the military and Leavenworth might be taking action for the purpose of chilling Chelsea’s speech or even with the goal of silencing her altogether by placing her in solitary,” ACLU attorney Chase Strangio wrote. “Hopefully with public scrutiny the prison will respond by dismissing these charges and ensuring that she is not unfairly targeted based on her activism, her identity, and her pending lawsuit.”

Military finally begins gender-related care for Chelsea Manning

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Source

February 13, 2015 by the Chelsea Manning Support Network

“It is … concerning that private medical information about Chelsea’s care was again leaked by government officials despite clear protections in federal law and the existence of a protective order.”
–Chase Strangio, ACLU attorney representing Chelsea Manning on gender related issues

After fighting for years to receive necessary gender-related medical care from prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Wikileaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning will finally begin hormone therapy. The Department of Defense’s approval of Manning’s care comes after Chelsea’s initial request for treatment in August of 2013 and a subsequent Sept 2014 lawsuit filed in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) after her medical needs continued to be ignored.

Update: Chelsea Manning, speaking to a Support Network organizer earlier this week, did in fact confirm that she had received her first hormone treatment.

Manning’s treatment will mark the first time the military has administered such care, as transgender individuals are currently not allowed to serve. Since Chelsea cannot be discharged until her 35-year prison sentence is complete, it is up to the Army to see to her medical well-being while imprisoned.

Hormone therapy, “is an important first step in Chelsea’s treatment regimen and one that is in line with the recommendations of all of her doctors and the basic requirements of the Eighth Amendment,” confirms Chase Strangio, attorney with the ACLU.  “We are thrilled for Chelsea that the government has finally agreed to initiate hormone therapy as part of her treatment plan.”

However, Stangrio notes, “The military continues to refuse to let Chelsea grow her hair like other female prisoners, a critical part of her treatment plan that has been recognized by her doctors. The resistance to meeting Chelsea’s full treatment needs is a reflection of the deeply entrenched stigma associated with transgender health care… we will keep fighting for Chelsea’s health needs until she is treated fully and adequately.”

Chase Strangio, attorney with the ACLU:

“Chelsea has waited years to receive basic medical care that she needs to treat her gender dysphoria. Since she arrived at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth in August of 2013, advocating for her medically necessary health care has been Chelsea’s priority. She has fought her whole life, and particularly over the course of the past few years, to be seen and affirmed as who she is–as Chelsea. We are thrilled for Chelsea that the government has finally agreed to initiate hormone therapy as part of her treatment plan. This is an important first step in Chelsea’s treatment regimen and one that is in line with the recommendations of all of her doctors and the basic requirements of the Eighth Amendment. But the delay in treatment came with a significant cost to Chelsea and her mental health and we are hopeful that the government continues to meet Chelsea’s medical needs as is its obligation under the Constitution so that those harms may be mitigated.

Meanwhile the fight continues. The military continues to refuse to let Chelsea grow her hair like other female prisoners, a critical part of her treatment plan that has been recognized by her doctors. The resistance to meeting Chelsea’s full treatment needs is a reflection of the deeply entrenched stigma associated with transgender health care. There is no transgender exception to the requirements of the Eighth Amendment and we will keep fighting for Chelsea’s health needs until she is treated fully and adequately. It is additionally concerning that private medical information about Chelsea’s care was again leaked by government officials despite clear protections in federal law and the existence of a protective order.”