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Seven Days in Solitary [6/2/13]

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 Guardian reports on an open letter written by hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay, stating “[t]he signatories protest that the forced feedings administered by military physicians at Guantánamo are ‘extremely painful’ and ‘in violation of the ethics of your profession.’”

•  The Winston-Salem Journal reports that the warden of Central Prison in North Carolina has been promoted and given a 15 percent raise, despite recent reports on a lawsuit alleging his failure to stop the “systematic beatings of handcuffed and shackled inmates held in solitary confinement at the Raleigh facility.”  Solitary Watch covers the federal lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of eight people held in solitary at Central Prison.

•  ABC News reports that a federal civil rights investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice has concluded that the State Correctional Institution at Cresson in western Pennsylvania has held people with serious mental illnesses in solitary confinement for months, and in some cases, years at a time. According to the article, “the Justice Department said the misuse of solitary confinement could extend to prisons statewide. The department is expanding its probe to include all state prisons.”

•  Ceasefire Magazine reports on the extradition of British citizens Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan, both of whom have been held in solitary confinement at the Northern Correctional Institute in Connecticut since October of 2012. In an effort to define what constitutes solitary confinement, (and mentions Solitary Watch’s recent visit to London.)

•  The ACLU reports on the federal lawsuit it has filed along with the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Law Offices of Elizabeth Alexander on behalf of people incarcerated at East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF), which the article describes as a “cesspool.” According to the ACLU, “[the] conditions at EMCF are blatantly unconstitutional and we fully expect to prevail in the lawsuit.”

•  The Ella Baker Center reports that SB61 has passed the California Senate floor, stating that “SB 61 will provide a uniform definition of solitary confinement, prohibit its use for punitive reasons, require data collection, and encourage the inclusion of family members on local juvenile justice commissions to help monitor such practices.”

•  The Life of the Law discusses the ethics of designing prisons with the intention of isolating people, suggesting that architects should have an ethical code that takes into account human rights in prison design.

•  A letter to the editor in the Albany Times-Union references a lawsuit on behalf of a woman who was “forcibly raped by a correctional officer while she was incarcerated for a minor offense.” Forced by a supervisor at the prison to relate the incident to him, the woman was then placed in SHU for eight days and nights, where she was “deprived of her clothing, reading materials and medications…” The piece responds to a commentary claiming that solitary is reserved for people who have inflicted suffering on another. 

•  The American-Statesman reports on the high suicide rate among people held in solitary confinement in Texas, stating that “[b]etween 2007 and 2012, the 8,000 to 9,000 state prisoners housed in administrative segregation made up between 5 and 6 percent of the total prison system census. Yet in a given year… their suicides have accounted for as high as 40 percent of the self-inflicted deaths.”

•  The American-Statesman reports on the heavy use of solitary confinement by Texas prisons compared to other states, stating that “Texas relies on its maximum custody status more than others.” 

Comments

  1. Last three times I tried to leave a reply it did not go in..

  2. As a ex-con myself having served seven behind the all and another 20 on probation or parole. It may be that my replies do not fit with the philosophy on this site. I have worked in the field of prisoner advocacy for fifty years, but I do not coddle or feel pity for snivelers that do wrong and talk about how they are mistreated. I am about facing what you have done and going forward in changing your life. I’m not about the do-good-er-set…

  3. Jean Casella and James Ridgeway says:

    We have not blocked any of your comments. We have been having server problems this weekend with the site going down for a few seconds at a time. This has happened several times in the past few weeks and we are looking into it. Apologies for the technical difficulties. We absolutely do not censor comments.

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