Most Americans are aware of the Plessy V. Ferguson Supreme Court case, however many are not familiar with the Insular cases, which were decided by the same Supreme Court justices. The Insular cases were a series of Supreme Court cases from the early 20th century which determined the constitutional rights of those who live in United States territories. Currently, the United States territories are composed of Puerto Rico, the American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S Virgin Islands. In these cases, the courts concluded that Americans living in American territories are not granted automatic citizenship and that Congress has the authority to grant citizenship to these territories. Although there have been several improvements to their conditions, these cases have yet to be overturned; in some of the American territories, citizenship continues to not be an automatic right.
In the 1990s, Five Mualimm-ak was a successful real estate investor, a passionate community leader, and a loving father of a 5-year-old boy. In 2000, he was wrongfully arrested for possession of illegal weapons and spent twelveyears in prison until the Innocence Project exonerated him. During his imprisonment, Mualimm-ak spent five years in solitary confinement. He was not put in solitary for dangerous behavior, but rather for minor infractions that include having too many postage stamps in his cell and not eating his apple. While in confinement, Mualimm-ak would spend 23 hours a day in his 6×9 foot cell with no social interactions. Another former inmate, who spent over seven years in isolation, described the smell as a combination of “defecation, unwashed armpits … [mixed] with the pepper spray officers use to extract prisoners from their cells”. After being released, Five Mualimm-ak was dropped off in Times Square by a bus filled with inmates who had also been in solitary confinement. Of the 15 people who were on the bus, 5 committed suicide within a year.