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.

• A Colorado bill that would prohibit the state from placing people with mental illness in solitary confinement is one step closer to becoming law.  On Friday, the bill easily passed through the Colorado House Appropriations Committee. It has already been approved by the state Senate.

• A prison doctor and two staffers have been let go from Kentucky State Penitentiary, after an ongoing investigation into an inmate’s death revealed extensive staff incompetence. James Kenneth Embry began refusing meals in December after he stopped taking his anti-anxiety medication.  Embry, who was 6 feet tall, weighed just 138 pounds when he died.

• The Boston Globe published an op-ed about the treatment of those with mental illness at Bridgewater Correctional Complex, the Massachusetts facility for incarcerated individuals with mental illness. “When your son arrives at the prison, he is strip searched and almost immediately housed in a room behind solid steel doors and, as time goes on, left alone for long stretches with almost no human contact…His meals are delivered through a slot in the door. Every other day, he can talk to you on the phone (also handed to him through the slot), but the line goes dead automatically after 10 minutes.”

• Frontline aired the first episode of a two-part series on prisons in America. The documentary, entitled Solitary Nation, was reviewed by The New York Times and can be watched online here.  PBS also published an accompanying article, “’Lock It Down’: How Solitary Started in the US.”

• A local Maine paper, The Bangor Daily News, interviewed Maine prison activists, prison guard union representatives and elected officials about their reactions to the documentary.

• The San Francisco Bay View published an update on the hunger strikers at Menard.  According to Alice Lynd, who receives letters from men held in Administrative Detention at the prison, all of the windows in the unit have been blocked. The men on the unit allege that corrections officer have been frequently strip searching them and slamming their heads against shower walls.

•  The San Francisco Bay View also published two letters from individuals held in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison (here and here).

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