Solitary confinement news roundupThe 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.

• Federal investigators have determined that the state of Pennsylvania violated both the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment and the American with Disabilities Act, by placing people with mental illness and intellectual disabilities in isolation in state prisons. U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton said, “Pennsylvania’s unconstitutional use of solitary confinement on prisoners with serious mental health illness victimizes one of the most vulnerable groups in our society. We remain vigilant in protecting the constitutional rights of all of our citizens, particularly those with intellectual disabilities and serious mental illness.”

• Nine Illinois legislators toured Pontiac Correctional Center, a maximum-security facility that houses about 2,000 individuals.

• The Center for Investigative Reporting published a new multimedia piece on teens in solitary confinement, focusing on New York’s Rikers Island.

• In New York Magazine, Benjamin Wallace-Wells narrated the story behind last year’s 30,000-strong hunger strike at Pelican Bay Prison, describing the four men who initiated the strike and how they organized it.

•  Aeon published a long-form piece examining the existing scientific evidence that solitary confinement damages the brain.

• Andrew Cohen of The Atlantic called on readers to be more critical of Colorado Department of Corrections Director Rick Raemisch, who last week published an op-ed in the New York Times about the torturous night he spent in solitary confinement.  Cohen uses two cases studies to explore how Colorado’s recent reforms fall short of what is necessary.

• The ACLU launched a petition asking Secretary of State John Kerry to grant a request made by UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Méndez to visit U.S. prisons, and in particular solitary confinement units.

• Last week’s Senate Committee hearing, “Reassessing Solitary Confinement II”, was covered by a wide variety of outlets, including Democracy Now, MSNBC, the Huffington Post, Esquire, the Washington Post and NPR. PBS interviewed members of the faith-based coalition that hosted the morning’s press conference. You can watch the entire hearing here.

• Mother Jones and In These Times covered the recent NYCLU settlement with the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, with both outlets musing whether the move signaled the beginning of a broader shift in policy.

Leave a Reply