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.

• Home Secretary Theresa May is again pressing the British High Court to allow the extradition of Haroon Aswat to the United States.  Last year, the European Court of Human Rights blocked Aswat’s extradition, ruling that he should be protected against the possibility of being placed in long-term isolation because of his mental illness.  

Democracy Now ran a long segment on solitary confinement, which featured a survivor of solitary, a family member of someone who died on the inside, and several others.

The New York Times posted an article and a short video about Joseph Ponte, the newly appointed correction commissioner of New York City. At his previous post overseeing Maine’s state prisons, Ponte significantly reduced the numbers of people placed in solitary.  

• In this month’s issue of the COBA magazine, members of the Correctional Officers’ Benevolent Association encourage readers not to “believe the hype” that solitary confinement in NYC’s jails constitutes abuse. COBA President Norman Seabrook has criticized the appointment of Joseph Ponte, claiming that Ponte’s position on solitary will endanger the lives of prison guards.

The Washington Post published an Op-Ed by Mary Buser, formerly the assistant chief of mental health on Riker’s Island: “Time and again, I felt that this [solitary confinement] had all the earmarks of torture. But I brushed the word from my mind, reminding myself that I lived in a civilized country that prohibits such things. Besides, the occupants of these cells had done something to warrant this punishment…Yet no matter how hard I tried to rationalize it, I knew in my heart that something was very wrong.”

• The editorial staff at The Baltimore Sun called on Maryland legislators to pass a bill mandating an independent investigation into the state’s use of solitary confinement.

• Mother Jones reported on two on-going lawsuits that challenge conditions on the inside: in the first lawsuit, the Justice Department alleges that Ohio has excessively subjected children with mental illness to solitary confinement; in the other lawsuit, a disability rights advocacy group claims that Montana violated the constitutional ban on “cruel and unusual punishment” by placing individuals with mental illness in extreme isolation for months and years at a time.

• Writing in The Portland Phoenix, Lance Tapley explores the criminalization of those with mental illness, and the role solitary confinement plays in this process.

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