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Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly is a production of THIRTEEN for WNET. Visit www.pbs.org/religionandethics for additional information.   Show #1726 will be fed over PBS at 5:00 p.m. EST on February 28 (check local listings). Program Note: due to pledge, please be sure to check the local listings.

Solitary Confinement – The debate over whether some prisoners should be locked up by themselves heated up this week as a Senate subcommittee held hearings on the practice and the New York State prison system agreed to new guidelines for the maximum length of time prisoners may be placed in solitary. Meanwhile, a growing faith-based movement says the abuse of solitary confinement violates religious values. In the United States there are an estimated 80 thousand prisoners now locked up in small cells, 23 hours a day, sometimes for more than 40 years.  Lucky Severson reports on those who say solitary is unChristian and does more harm than good.  Against them are corrections officers and others who insist solitary is necessary to protect guards and other prisoners from the most violent.   Severson also interviews Bobby Dellelo who spent five years in solitary and talks about the anger and rage it provoked and Mississippi’s Corrections Director Christopher Epps, who removed two-thirds of Mississippi’s prisoners in solitary and saw violence go down 40%. (Previously aired on October 11, 2013) http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/2013/10/11/october-11-2013-solitary-confinement/20631/

Journey of the Real Philomena – At Sunday’s Academy Awards, the movie “Philomena” is up for four Oscars, including best picture.  It’s based on the true story of a Catholic teenager in Ireland who became pregnant outside of marriage in the 1950s and was forced by nuns to give up her son for adoption. The movie depicts her search for him decades later, helped by a British journalist. Kim Lawton talks with the inspiration for the film, Philomena Lee and her daughter, Jane Libberton, about Philomena’s journey overcoming bitterness and shame.

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