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.

• California Senator Loni Hanock’s prison reform bill has passed through the Senate and now goes to the State Assembly.  Both prisoners and prisoners’ rights advocates have voiced their opposition to the legislation, since it writes into law the state’s policy of placing individuals in solitary merely for suspected gang membership.

• Lawyers for a man who recently pled guilty to killing a prison guard are now fighting to keep him out of the federal supermax facility in Florence, Colorado.  Attorneys for James Ninete Leon Guerrero explained that he “is not challenging the fact of his confinement, but rather the conditions of confinement.”  Guerrero has a documented intellectual disability and has also been diagnosed as bipolar.

• Solitary confinement survivor and Solitary Watch contributor Sarah Shourd published a piece in The Daily Beast entitled, “How solitary confinement destroys women.”

• A trial date has been set for a New Jersey Superior Court case brought by a prisoner who claims he was placed in solitary confinement without sufficient due process.   Lester Alford also hopes to prove that his time in solitary confinement – eight years and counting – amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.  In a letter last month to a local outlet, Alford described the conditions he has endured:  “I eat every meal that is served in my cell. If I am allowed to use the unit phone, I have to use it in my cell. I am not allowed to go to the law library, gym, or anywhere else inmates congregate. The conditions on the MCU unit (Management Control Unit) is one that can only be described as bleak, hopeless, and explosive.”

• The Colorado Independent published an in-depth analysis of last week’s federal ruling in Thomas Silverstein v. Federal Bureau of Prisons.  Silverstein, 62, has been held in complete isolation for 31 years – longer than any other federal prisoner.  The journalist quotes from an article posted last week on Solitary Watch by the site’s editors, Jean Casella and James Ridgeway.  Artwork made by Silverstein and his accounts of his conditions in solitary are also incorporated into the piece.

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