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 Seattle Times reports on a new program for prisoners with mental illness who are held in isolation at Washington’s Monroe Correctional Complex. According to the story, “The new Reintegration and Progression Program at Monroe’s IMU [Intensive Management Unit] uses group behavioral modification classes to transition offenders out of solitary confinement and back into general population.”
• In a piece entitled “The US’s 64-Square-Foot ‘Torture Chambers,’” Inter Press Service reports on the abuse of solitary confinement in the US, touching on the case of Russell Maroon Shoatz, who has spent the last 22 years in solitary confinement.
• Vice reports that Mark “Migs” Neiweem, who is currently held at the Pontiac Correctional Center in Illinois, “has been in solitary confinement since July for possessing ‘copious amounts of Anarchist publications’ and ‘handwritten Anarchist related essays,’ according to prison documents.”
• The Los Angeles Times reports that Juan Méndez, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, has requested access to California prisons to investigate the use of solitary confinement and ensure that the rights of prisoners’ are being protected. According to the story, “Méndez said he wants access to any part of any prison he chooses and the freedom to speak with inmates of his choosing.” Solitary Watch reports on Méndez’ past requests to visit US prisons here.
• A segment on Capital Public Radio questions the effectiveness of the California prison system’s use of Security Housing Units (SHUs) as a way to separate alleged gang members from the general population, noting that gangs continue to be a problem in prisons.
• The Los Angeles Times reports on the federal court case on the treatment of prisoners with mental illness in California prisons, stating that “[l]awyers for inmates want U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton to require psychiatric hospitalization for the most mentally ill prisoners on death row and to ban the use of pepper spray as a means of controlling the mentally infirm.” Solitary Watch reports on the trial here.
• Angola 3 News reports on Amnesty International’s new campaign demanding Albert Woodfox’s immediate release from prison, stating “Today, we firmly believe that the momentum created by Herman’s struggle, the recent UN statement for Albert, and now the Amnesty campaign, is the final push we need to make Albert’s freedom a reality.”
• In a piece published on Truthout, Victoria Law reports on the first of the Public Safety Committee hearings on the use of solitary confinement in California prisons. According to the story, testimonies were heard from “CDCR officials, academics, former prisoners and family members” during the four-hour hearing at the State Capitol in Sacramento. View video footage of the hearing here.
• Salon reports that some detainees held at Guantanamo Bay were reportedly coerced to stop hunger striking, writing that “Three prisoners, all of whom have been cleared for transfer from the prison but remain detained there, testified in letters that hunger strikers… were humiliated, held in isolation and denied their belongings in attempts by prison authorities to break their resolve.”