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Seven Days in Solitary [11/29/2015]

Sun, 2015-11-29 20:12
• A San Francisco federal jury awarded $25,000 to a Pelican Bay prisoner, Jesse Perez, whose cell was trashed in retaliation for his activism against solitary confinement. Before his cell was searched in October 2012 Perez had filed a lawsuit and published articles criticizing California’s use of isolation; jurors determined that guards had violated his free-speech […]

Shakeup in Alaska Prisons Targets “Overuse” of Solitary Confinement

Tue, 2015-11-24 11:00
Alaska’s prison system is “broken” according to Governor Bill Walker following a damning review of the Department of Corrections, including its overuse of solitary confinement and a recommendation for the practice to be used “sparingly and appropriately.” The review was ordered by Walker in August following highly-publicized outcry about a string of deaths of individuals […]

Seven Days in Solitary [11/22/2015]

Sun, 2015-11-22 20:46
• An incarcerated journalist and survivor of solitary, Christopher Zoukis, reflects on his experiences for the Huffington Post. • According to the New York Daily News, NYC has agreed to pay $3.8 million to the family of a man who died while in solitary confinement on Rikers Island. Jason Echevarria, 25, died in August 2012 after swallowing […]

Judged Incompetent to Stand Trial, People with Mental Illness Still Languish in Pennsylvania Jails

Thu, 2015-11-19 10:00
Some of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens—people facing criminal charges who are not competent to stand trial because of mental disabilities—have begun a class action lawsuit over the state’s provision of mental health treatment. Last month, eleven plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU of Pennsylvania, sued the heads of a state agency and of the two state […]

Seven Days in Solitary [11/15/2015]

Tue, 2015-11-17 12:08
• Nine individuals held in 23 and 24-hour isolation in Middlesex County jail’s C-pod have filed a lawsuit, alleging their conditions of confinement violate their constitutional rights. One passage of the lawsuit reads, “In C-Pod, time passes in long silences broken by the sudden outbursts of the mentally ill, who scream, bang on the walls and toilets, […]

Presidential Prison Politics

Tue, 2015-11-10 13:43
As prison issues and criminal justice reform become increasingly popular items on the nation’s political agenda, the 2016 presidential candidates are getting in line. Most have shifted their prison policies toward reform in recent years (or months), and almost all say they support basic reforms like reduced mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenders. Nonetheless, headlines […]

Seven Days in Solitary [11/8/2015]

Sun, 2015-11-08 23:17
• In Jezebel, Solitary Watch Contributing Writer Aviva Stahl interviews Synthia China Blast, a transgender woman who was isolated in involuntary protective custody for almost 20 years. Blast talks about her children, the abuse she suffered and the defense mechanisms she adopted in jail and after she was released. • The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned […]

Maine Prison Rules Would Use Solitary Confinement to Punish Free Expression

Wed, 2015-11-04 15:10
Proposed prison rules in Maine that carry punishment of up to 20 days in solitary confinement prohibit activities such as communicating with a pen-pal or having contact with news media. The new rules have been widely denounced by prison justice and civil liberties advocates. “They’re outrageous. I can’t believe it,” said Joseph Jackson, who is […]

Seven Days in Solitary [11/1/2015]

Sun, 2015-11-01 08:50
• The Center for Constitutional Rights has appealed a district court ruling in a case that seeks to challenge the constitutionality of the Bureau of Prison’s restrictive Communication Management Units (CMUs). CCR lawyer Rachel Meerpol said, “Communications Management Units impose harsh restrictions on prisoners’ communication with their families and with fellow prisoners for years at a […]

Voices from Solitary: Pregnant in Prison, Birth in Shackles

Fri, 2015-10-30 11:11
In 2008, the federal Bureau of Prisons passed a policy prohibiting the use of restraints on women in custody who are in labor, delivery or postpartum recovery. In 2009, Texas passed a law banning the use of shackles on incarcerated pregnant women during labor, delivery and postpartum recovery. But, as both the ACLU of Texas and […]

85% of LGBTQ People Behind Bars Report Spending Time in Solitary

Mon, 2015-10-26 14:20
This month, advocates and people behind bars received statistical proof for something they have long suspected—that gay, lesbian and transgender individuals in prison are placed in solitary confinement at significantly greater rates than their heterosexual and cisgender peers. On October 16, the organization Black & Pink released a groundbreaking report, “Coming Out of Concrete Closets,” which examines […]

Seven Days in Solitary [10/25/2015]

Sun, 2015-10-25 17:33
• The Hartford Courant examined the significant decrease in the use of solitary confinement at the Connecticut’s maximum-security prison, Northern Correctional Institution – from 244 people held in isolation in 2003 to 53 held in isolation in mid-October 2015. Hope Metcalf of Yale Law School said, “From a numbers perspective, Connecticut is doing much better than […]

“Together to End Solitary” Unites Activists Nationwide

Fri, 2015-10-23 08:00
GUEST POST BY CORRINA REGNIER AND VERBENA LEA   At this moment, 80,000 to 100,000 people in the United States spend all but one or two hours a day locked in tiny, often windowless cells – sometimes in complete darkness, sometimes in ceaseless artificial light. There they stay, for months, years, and even decades, with […]

How Britain Does Supermax

Wed, 2015-10-21 09:05
What is a prison system to do with what are sometimes called the “worst of the worst” among its charges? How can prisons handle individuals who have been so violent that they cannot be housed in the general population? For decades, in the United States, the answer has been to place them, along with tens […]

Off the Block

Wed, 2015-10-21 09:00
As the first of several journeys for Solitary Watch’s Alternatives Project, my colleague Aviva Stahl and I spent two weeks in Britain, visiting prisons and interviewing officials of HM Prison Service and its oversight bodies, advocates, lawyers, scholars, and currently and formerly incarcerated individuals. Our aim was to discover how solitary is—and is not—used in […]

Seven Days in Solitary [10/18/2015]

Sun, 2015-10-18 18:43
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. • Taylor Pendergrass of the New York Civil Liberties Union wrote a commentary piece for the Marshall Project linking the movement to reform solitary confinement to the broader struggle to […]

New Feature: Milestones in Solitary Reform

Sat, 2015-10-17 16:29
This week we debut a new feature on Solitary Watch: a timeline that tracks the rapidly accumulating (and accelerating) reforms made to solitary confinement policies and practices across the country. “Milestones in Solitary Reform” – created and maintained by Amy Fettig of the ACLU National Prison Project, and Margo Schlanger of the University of Michigan Law School, with […]

Seven Days in Solitary [10/11/2015]

Sun, 2015-10-11 21:07
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. • Two prominent voices in the movement to reform solitary published an article for The American Prospect entitled, “Eight Principles for Reforming Solitary Confinement.” Some of the principles listed include […]

Voices from Solitary: We Are All Animals

Fri, 2015-10-09 12:23
Jacob Barrett is an Oregon state prisoner who was transferred to Florida under the Interstate Corrections Compact. He was held in the Intensive Management Unit in Oregon, and then in Close Management in Florida—both euphemism for solitary confinement. Barrett has served two decades of a life sentence for a murder committed when he was 19 years […]

Seven Days in Solitary [10/4/2015]

Sun, 2015-10-04 18:35
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 Advocate published an interview with Ashley Diamond, a transgender woman recently released from Augusta State Medical Prison in Georgia. “It was torture. I might be free now, but […]