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In 1972, he was put in solitary confinement. He's been there since, but now there's hope.

If the goal is to bring an end to solitary confinement, this is a big step in the right direction.

In 1972, he was put in solitary confinement. He's been there since, but now there's hope.

For more than 40 years, Albert Woodfox has lived in solitary confinement at Louisiana State Penitentiary.

Originally convicted along with two others of armed robbery in 1971, Woodfox — who is now 68 years old — would later be accused and convicted of murdering one of the prison's guards.

After receiving a new sentence of life in prison, Woodfox was moved into solitary confinement, where he spent the next 43 years. In June of last year, an appeals court ordered Woodfox released from prison, citing a lack of evidence, only to have that decision reversed. In November, a federal appeals court ruled that Woodfox could be made to stand trial for a third time; his first two convictions were overturned.


In the meantime, he remains in solitary confinement, living out his days in a 6-foot-by-9-foot cell, punished for a crime he argues he did not commit. There's no telling what 43 years away from other people has done to him, and it's hard to imagine what sort of life he will have if and when he is released back into the world, having been away from it for so long.

There are a few things we know about solitary confinement — none of them good.

In 2011, the United Nations called on countries to do away with solitary confinement. The argument is that the mental abuse prisoners in solitary undergo as the result of their placement can amount to torture.

“Solitary confinement is a harsh measure which is contrary to rehabilitation, the aim of the penitentiary system,” said UN special rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez.

"Considering the severe mental pain or suffering solitary confinement may cause," he added, "it can amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment when used as a punishment, during pretrial detention, indefinitely or for a prolonged period, for persons with mental disabilities or juveniles."

A detainee makes a call from his "segregation cell" at the Adelanto Detention Facility in Adelanto, Califoria. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

We know studies have shown solitary confinement doesn't actually make anyone any safer. In fact, some find that people held in solitary confinement for extended periods of time actually become more likely to become violent.

We know that somewhere around 80,000 prisoners are being held in solitary confinement at any given time.

We know that it costs three times as much to house someone in solitary confinement than in the general population.

No matter how you look at it, keeping people in solitary confinement for extended periods of time simply doesn't make sense.

In July, President Obama ordered the Department of Justice to review the use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons.

He showed skepticism for the practice, calling it "not smart."

"I’ve asked my attorney general to start a review of the overuse of solitary confinement across American prisons," said Obama during a speech at the NAACP conference. "The social science shows that an environment like that is often more likely to make inmates more alienated, more hostile, potentially more violent. Do we really think it makes sense to lock so many people alone in tiny cells for 23 hours a day, sometimes for months or even years at a time?"

Obama meets with Attorney General Loretta Lynch in the Oval Office on May 29, 2015. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

The review has been completed, and the president is adopting its recommendations.

In an editorial from The Washington Post on Jan. 25, the president outlined exactly what that means:

  • Banning solitary confinement for juveniles
  • Banning solitary confinement as a punishment for "low-level infractions"
  • Reducing the amount of time inmates in solitary must stay in their cells
  • Expanding on-site mental health resources

By the president and Department of Justice's estimate, this will affect somewhere around 10,000 inmates.

It's stories like Woodfox's that makes Obama's latest action so huge.

It's rarely "necessary" to hold someone in solitary, and Obama's new guidelines clearly state that inmates should be "housed in the least restrictive setting necessary to ensure their own safety, as well as the safety of staff, other inmates, and the public."

The president's move doesn't go so far as to eliminate the use of solitary confinement, but it does set the framework for future reviews of the system, which could in turn bring an end to the practice.

For now, though, Woodfox remains in solitary, awaiting yet another trial and, perhaps, freedom.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Welcometoterranova-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.