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More than 100 years ago, the US Supreme Court acknowledged the cruelty of solitary confinement. Recently, the suicide of a New York teenager isolated for two years without ever being charged has created an uproar. Why is solitary still used? What are the alternatives?

Also, the Senate votes to salvage President Obama's trade deal. On today's Talking Point, can a chicken become a dinosaur? A scientific consultant to the movie Jurassic World says, "yes." But, why? 

Photo: Corrie Barklimore

Senate Votes to Salvage Obama's Trade Deal 6 MIN, 30 SEC

A major turnaround on Capitol Hill today means that President Obama's top legislative priority is not be dead after all. The Senate appears to be paving the way for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive free trade deal. Manu Raju is senior congressional correspondent for Politico.

Manu Raju, Politico (@mkraju)

Trade Adjustment Assistance

Solitary Confinement and Prison Reform 33 MIN, 38 SEC

Some 88,000 inmates of state and federal prisons are in some form of solitary confinement, although it’s not called by its real name. But concern about abusive detention — even on death row — has reached all the way to the US Supreme Court.  Writing about a case dealing with a different subject, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy recently stunned court watchers by condemning solitary confinement.  He noted that, as long ago as 1890, the Court acknowledged that solitary can lead to madness and suicide, and listed possible side effects including: anxiety panic, withdrawal, hallucinations and self-mutilation.

The mental damage caused by isolation is well known, but often inmates are released directly from solitary into the general population outside.  Some prison systems are trying to change their ways.  We look at the practice of solitary confinement and the available alternatives.    

Christie Thompson, Marshall Project (@cm_thompson3)
Ian Kysel, Georgetown University Law Center (@ianmkysel)
Marc Levin, Right on Crime (@MarcALevin)
Amy Fettig, ACLU (@abfettig)

Marshall Project/NPR investigation into solitary confinement
Kysel's NYT op-ed on ending solitary confinement for teens
ACLU's Stop Solitary campaign
Amnesty International on Albert Woodfox and the 'Angola 3'
New Yorker on Kalief Browder
DOJ/National Institute of Justice on solitary confinement (2012)
AG Holder criticizes excessive use of solitary confinement for juveniles with mental illness (2014)
NY Civil Liberties Union on new rules that make Rikers a leader in solitary confinement reform

Is the World Ready for a "Dino-chicken?" 9 MIN, 43 SEC

We all know the story behind Jurassic World, where genetically engineered dinosaurs run wild. One descendent of dinosaurs is the chicken — and last month, researchers announced that they had modified part a chicken to look like part of a dinosaur. That was welcome news to Jack Horner. A paleontologist at Montana State University, he's been a consultant to the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies. He's looking forward to a complete "dino-chicken."

Jack Horner at the Museo di Storia Naturale in Milan, Italy
Photo: Paolo Sacchi

Jack Horner, Montana State University

Harvard Gazette on evolutionary shift from dinosaurs to birds

Jurassic World

Colin Trevorrow

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