On Tuesday, September 18th the Pennsylvania House Democratic Party Policy Committee will hold a hearing entitled “Effects of Solitary Confinement.” The hearing will feature testimony from Dr. Terry Kupers, Dr. Craig Haney, former Restricted Housing Unit inmate LuQman Abdullah, and others. The hearing will be at 10:00 AM at Temple University, President’s Conference Suite, First Floor, 1810 Liacouras Walk, in Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania currently holds five percent, nearly 2,500, of inmates in solitary confinement out of 50,000 inmates. Pennsylvania’s isolation units have recently made news for the deaths of inmates in custody. In April, inmate John Carter was found dead in his cell. In July, inmate Brandon Palakovic committed suicide. Solitary Watch has also reported the case of the Dallas 6, a group of inmates violently cell extracted following a non-violent protest at SCI-Greene. An interview with freed Dallas 6 inmate Derrick Stanley can be read here.

Inmate Ricardo “Truth” Noble wrote about the experience of the RHU, “In the RHU life is intense. Especially in the beginning weeks or months. As time passes your mind begins to become clouded with mixed emotions, anger, guilt, hate, paranoia, hopelessness, loneliness, and other frustrations.” (The photograph shows an RHU cell at SCI-Dallas.)

Solitary Watch’s Valeria Monfrini has also produced a short documentary on solitary confinement in PA, with interviews of formerly incarcerated RHU inmates and their family members.

The hearing will address the mental health and experiential effects of solitary confinement as well as the impact it has on family members and released inmates. A copy of the agenda is below.

10:00 a.m.      Welcome and Opening Remarks

10:10 a.m.      Panel of Mental Health Experts:

*         Dr. Terry Kupers, Institute Professor, The Wright Institute

*         Dr. Craig Haney, Professor of Psychology, University of
California, Santa Cruz

10:50 a.m.      Panel of Legal Experts:

*         Jules Lobel, President, Center for Constitutional Rights

*         Marc Bookman, Executive Director, Atlantic Center for Capital

*         Angus Love, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project

*         Robert Meek, Managing Staff Attorney, Disability Rights Network of PA

11:50 a.m.      Panel of Former Inmates in Solitary Confinement:

*         Robert King

*         Hakeem Shaeed (formerly Robert Molley)

*         LuQman Abdullah, Senior Vice President, Back to Society, Inc.

*         Shujaa Graham, Vice Chair of Board, Witness to Innocence

12:20 p.m.      Panel of Testifiers with Family Members in Solitary Confinement:

*         Theresa Shoatz

*         Shandre Delaney

*         Patricia Vickers

*         Barbara Fair, Founder, My Brother’s Keeper

12:50 p.m.      Closing Remarks

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