About Jasmine Heiss

Jasmine Heiss is a Campaigner with Amnesty International USA's Individuals and Communities at Risk program. She advocates on behalf of the prisoners of conscience, human rights defenders, communities and other individuals who are at the heart of Amnesty International's work. Prior to joining Amnesty International USA, Jasmine worked on the ground in Argentina and Peru and studied in India. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Chicago and is fluent in English and Spanish.
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Start Now: 6 Ways You Can Help #StopTorture

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More than one hundred men and women of color were tortured by Chicago police commander Jon Burge between 1972 and 1991 – and they are still calling for justice.

As Amnesty International’s Stop Torture Campaign gains momentum across the globe, their stories make it clear that, as U.S. based activists, our work must begin in our own backyard. Decades of brutality tore apart Chicago torture survivors’ families and communities and they have been denied the reparations needed to make them whole.


Introducing Amnesty’s New Global Campaign Against Torture


Darrell Cannon was tortured by three Chicago Police Department detectives at a remote site on Chicago’s South Side. Over course of a day, they pressed a cattle prod to his testicles and put it into his mouth. The officers attempted to lift him off the ground by handcuffs secured behind his back, contorting his upper body. They repeatedly made him believe that they had loaded a shotgun and rammed in into his mouth, breaking his tooth.

“These are all things they enjoyed doing,” Darrell Cannon told Amnesty International, his voice cracking.

He spent 24 years in prison on the basis of a coerced confession that was tortured out of him – ten of those years suffering further degradation in solitary confinement at Tamms Supermax prison.


42 Years of Injustice: When Will Louisiana Wake Up?

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Right now, a man named Albert Woodfox is sitting in a concrete and steel cage in a prison near the northernmost edge of the State of Louisiana. His cell is barely the size of a parking space, and he leaves it for a scant hour each day. When Albert awoke yesterday morning, it was to begin the first day of his forty-second year in solitary confinement.


Time is Running Out: Tell Louisiana to Let Albert Woodfox Go!


This could be the end of Albert Woodfox’s 40-year plus prison nightmare, if you act now.

On Tuesday morning, Jan. 7, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans will hold a hearing to determine Albert’s fate.

Will they finally act on the 2013 ruling that overturned his conviction and set him free, or shut the door and send him back to another unthinkable year in solitary confinement?


Remembering Herman Wallace (1941 – 2013)

Early yesterday morning, a mere three days after he was released from prison, iconic “Angola 3” member Herman Wallace died – a free man.

My heart is heavy. I am beyond grateful that Herman passed surrounded by loved ones after surviving a nightmare of more than 41 years in cruel, inhuman and degrading solitary confinement. I am unspeakably angry that the State of Louisiana’s vindictive cruelty has not let up, even at Herman’s final breath. I am incredulous that a step toward justice has taken this long.

Herman Wallace was first placed in solitary in 1972, after prison guard Brent Miller was murdered at Angola prison. He was convicted of the murder two years later, after a trial riddled with legal flaws and inconsistencies. On October 1, a federal judge overturned Herman’s conviction, ordering the state to immediately release him. Louisiana authorities tried desperately to keep Herman behind bars, appealing against the court order, even as an ambulance waited outside Elayn Hunt correctional center.


Don’t Let Herman Die Alone


Herman Wallace may not have a lot of time left – he’s 71 years old, has advanced liver cancer, and has survived four decades of imprisonment in the cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions of solitary confinement.

He and fellow prisoner Albert Woodfox, of Angola 3 fame, have been held in solitary confinement longer than anyone else in modern U.S. history. The men have spent the past 41 years of their lives alone in tiny cells for 23 hours a day, deprived of any meaningful human interaction.

He and fellow prisoner Albert Woodfox, of Angola 3 fame, have been held in solitary confinement longer than anyone else in modern U.S. history.

But Herman is fighting for his life and for justice. Today, we wanted to update you and shed just a bit of light into this bleak situation. On Friday, Herman Wallace was reclassified from a maximum to a medium security prisoner. That means he now has access to the day room and will no longer wear leg restraints – an incredible change for someone who has been held in isolation for more than 40 years. Thank you to the more than 30,000 of you who helped make this possible.