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News from a Nation on Lockdown
Updated: 59 min 46 sec ago

After Hunger Strikes, Solitary Confinement Reforms Come to California’s Prisons——and Leave Thousands Behind

Wed, 2015-07-01 08:00
Four years ago today, approximately 6,600 people in California prisons launched a hunger strike in protest of long-term solitary confinement. The protest would be the first of three large-scale actions by state prisoners to bring awareness to the issue of long-term solitary confinement. At the epicenter was Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, home of […]

Will Revamped Prison Regulations Reduce Solitary Confinement in California?

Tue, 2015-06-30 12:53
California prison officials have announced a number of changes to state regulations pertaining to the use of solitary confinement and other forms of extreme isolation. The reforms come in the run-up to the fourth year anniversary of the first of three large-scale hunger strikes launched by individuals in the state’s Security Housing Units (SHU) in protest […]

Kalief Browder’s Life and Death Galvanize Action to End Solitary Confinement

Mon, 2015-06-29 08:15
Three weeks ago, a young African American man from the Bronx took his own life. The impact of Kalief Browder’s suicide has been felt at the city, state, and even federal levels, and may be felt far into the future. Browder’s story, in which he was held on Rikers Island for three years beginning at […]

Seven Days in Solitary [6/28/2015]

Sun, 2015-06-28 22:37
The following roundup features noteworthy news, reports and opinions on solitary confinement from the past week that have not been covered in other Solitary Watch posts. • Advocates and advocates gathered on Rikers Island to demand justice for Kalief Browder, a 22-year-old who committed suicide after spending three years at the jail, including 400 days in […]

Supreme Court Justice Kennedy Denounces “Human Toll” of Solitary Confinement and Invites Constitutional Challenge

Tue, 2015-06-23 12:16
Guest Post by Samuel Weiss and Amy Fettig Samuel Weiss is Ford Foundation Fellow at the ACLU’s Center for Justice. Amy Fettig is Senior Staff Counsel at the ACLU’s National Prison Project. In March, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was testifying before the House Appropriations Subcommittee when he received a question on prison overcrowding. He responded […]

Seven Days in Solitary [6/21/15]

Sun, 2015-06-21 18:03
The following roundup features noteworthy news, reports and opinions on solitary confinement from the past week that have not been covered in other Solitary Watch posts. • Terrence Pendergrass, a former captain at Rikers Island, was sentenced to five years in prison for violating the civil rights of an inmate who died under his watch. Jason […]

Voices from Solitary: Phantom Souls

Fri, 2015-06-19 09:00
Fifteen years ago, Gerard G. Schultz, Jr., now 38, was convicted of murder in Phoenix, Arizona. He is serving a life sentence and has been in solitary since 2008, when he was transferred from Arizona to Illinois under the Interstate Corrections Compact. In Illinois, he was placed in Tamms Supermax Prison until it was closed […]

Will Lawsuits and Exposés Lead to Reform of Florida’s Brutal Prisons?

Thu, 2015-06-18 07:30
Florida’s prisons have become notorious for their abuse and neglect of the people in their care. Now, as per an agreement between the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Disability Rights Group of Florida, the state will be overhauling its system of treatment for people with mental illness at the Dade Correctional Institution (Dade CI), located […]

Seven Days in Solitary [6/14/2015]

Sun, 2015-06-14 14:27
The following roundup features noteworthy news, reports and opinions on solitary confinement from the past week that have not been covered in other Solitary Watch posts. • Clinton Correctional Facility has been under 24-hour lockdown for over a week, ever since two prisoners incarcerated at the facility escaped. The lockdown means that people are unable to […]

Federal Judge Orders Angola 3’s Albert Woodfox Unconditionally Released After 43 Years in Solitary Confinement (Updated 6/12)

Mon, 2015-06-08 19:47
Update, June 12, 4:30 pm: The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has decided to continue the stay and block release until the State of Louisiana’s appeal is heard, but they have also granted an “expedited” status for the appeal. Final legal briefs are due August 7, so nearly two more months will pass before Albert Woodfox […]

Seven Days in Solitary [6/7/15]

Sun, 2015-06-07 23:25
The following roundup features noteworthy news, reports and opinions on solitary confinement from the past week that have not been covered in other Solitary Watch posts. • A New Jersey bill hopes to reduce the limits on solitary confinement to no more than two days in a row for 15-year-olds, no more than three for those […]

New Report Highlights 10 Destructive Myths About Solitary Confinement

Fri, 2015-06-05 07:00
As the first in a planned series of reports, the Vera Institute for Justice’s Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative has published Solitary Confinement: Common Misconceptions and Emerging Safe Alternatives. As noted in  the overview to the report: Evidence mounts that the practice produces many unwanted and harmful outcomes—for the mental and physical health of those placed […]

Seven Days in Solitary [5/31/15]

Sun, 2015-05-31 12:00
The following roundup features noteworthy news, reports and opinions on solitary confinement from the past week that have not been covered in other Solitary Watch posts. • The Chronicles of Social Change published an article, called Holding on to Humanity, about “a social worker’s visit with youth offenders at Pelican Bay State Prison.” • Fresno County has […]

With Loved Ones in Prison, Women Become Leaders in the Fight Against Solitary Confinement in New York

Thu, 2015-05-28 16:05
Jessica Casanova’s nephew wrote her a letter: “I”m here in a steel coffin. I’m breathing but I’m dead.” Casanova recounted, “I didn’t know what that meant so I got on a bus and I found out.” That was in 2012, and three years later, she’s still finding out. As it turned out, Casanova’s nephew, Juan, […]

Seven Days in Solitary [5/24/2015]

Sun, 2015-05-24 13:30
The following roundup features noteworthy news, reports and opinions on solitary confinement from the past week that have not been covered in other Solitary Watch posts. • The UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Crime Justice has revised its international standards for the treatment of prisoners. The rules call for solitary confinement to be limited to a […]

New Report Documents Brutal Treatment of People with Mental Illness in U.S. Prisons and Jails

Fri, 2015-05-22 14:30
“Across the United States, staff working in jails and prisons have used unnecessary, excessive, and even malicious force on prisoners with mental disabilities such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.” This is the conclusion of Callous and Cruel: Use of Force Against Inmates with Mental Disabilities in US Jails and Prisons a Human Rights Watch report […]

A Fortnight in Solitary [5/17/2015]

Mon, 2015-05-18 11:00
The following roundup features noteworthy news, reports and opinions on solitary confinement from the past two weeks that have not been covered in other Solitary Watch posts. • Curry County, New Mexico has again been sued on allegations of abuse at its jail facilities. Alejandro “Alex” Romero, 36, did not receive any medication for his diagnosed […]

London Calling

Tue, 2015-05-05 08:00
For the next two weeks, Solitary Watch will be on hiatus while my colleague Aviva Stahl and I take a reporting trip to the United Kingdom. While there, we will be speaking with officials and inspectors of Her Majesty’s Prison Service, as well as prison reform advocates, scholars, and currently and formerly incarcerated individuals. We  also […]

Seven Days in Solitary [5/3/15]

Sun, 2015-05-03 10:00
The following roundup features noteworthy news, reports and opinions on solitary confinement from the past week that have not been covered in other Solitary Watch posts. • A 64-year old man was found dead in his cell at San Quentin Prison. He had spent 14 years on California’s death row where 752 people still remain. […]

Pennsylvania Law Aimed at Silencing People Convicted of Crimes Is Declared Unconstitutional

Fri, 2015-05-01 08:00
On Tuesday, a federal judge struck down a Pennsylvania law that had the potential to severely curtail free speech for people convicted of crimes. The Revictimization Relief Act, enacted last fall, was initially aimed at silencing Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is serving a life sentence for the 1981 murder of a police officer, and whose case […]