This story by Adam Lynn, about Washington state’s McNeil Island Correctional Center in Puget Sound, appeared recently in The Olympian. It’s one extreme example of the retaliatory use of solitary confinement by prison staff.

The guardians of a state prison inmate who suffered brain damage when he tried to hang himself claim in a lawsuit that at the time he was hurt, corrections officers were accepting bribes in return for granting special privileges. Access to cell phones and unauthorized conjugal visits could be bought, and money was extorted from prisoners who wouldn’t pay, the lawsuit says…

Quantcast[In September 2008, Leon] Toney, then 31, tried to kill himself after Department of Corrections officers retaliated against him by putting him into solitary confinement when he refused to meet their bribery demands, according to the lawsuit, which was filed last week.

They knew he might be a danger to himself because of previously diagnosed mental health issues, the suit contends. “DOC staff knew or should have known that improperly locking him in solitary confinement would aggravate his serious depression and suicidal ideation,” the suit states.

Belinda Stewart, communications and outreach director for the Corrections Department, said Friday that the agency would not comment on the allegations raised in the lawsuit.

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