TERRE HAUTE, IN - Human Rights Day focuses on spreading humane treatment to everyone. It seems like a simple enough notion to many of us, but there's still plenty of injustice across the country.
Human rights issues have come a long way in today's age. On Tuesday, local high schoolers and college students heard from Indiana State University's human rights day presentation, Solitary Confinement... The Fight for Humanity.
"It's really an on-going issue in the prison system here in the U.S. tied in with the mass incarceration that's going on. Hopefully the students will join us and be part of this movement to end this barbaric practice," speaker Ernest Coverson said.
Coverson is the field organizer for amnesty international dealing with human rights issues on a daily basis. He was part of the coalition that fought to free Albert Woodfox who was imprisoned for armed robbery in the 70's and later falsely accused of murdering a Louisiana State Penitentiary guard along with two other inmates.
Woodfox was the last of the three to be released after spending 43 years in solitary confinement. A living space equivalent to a parking spot.
"It took away his life, I mean, luckily he was mentally strong, but it still had an effect on his mentality," Coverson said.
Woodfox's story and Coverson's dedication to help spoke to ISU student Ashley Robinson.
"Jail is supposed to be rehabilitation, so solitary confinement is not rehabilitation that's making the person worse off than what they came in as," Robinson said.
A senior in social work, Robinson says she'd like to work within the justice system when she graduates.
"I think we can do a lot better on how we treat humans, no matter what they are or what their beliefs are or anything. We just need to treat them like humans."
Solitary confinement within prisons remains a current issue. In January President Obama banned solitary confinement for juveniles and low-level offenders in federal facilities.