Solitary confinement news roundup: 7 Days in SolitaryThe 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.

• Michael Anthony Kerr, a North Carolina man who had been held in solitary confinement, died of thirst, according to a recently released autopsy. The pathologist wrote that the Department of Corrections released too little information for her to determine whether Mr. Kerr’s death constituted a homicide; however, she did note that at the time he was not receiving any treatment for his schizoaffective disorder.

• At a Colorado gubernatorial debate, the two candidates addressed a variety of issues, including solitary confinement. Governor John Hickenlooper mentioned his friend, Boulder attorney Jack Ebel, whose son Evan allegedly killed then-prisons chief Tom Clements in 2013 after being released from solitary confinement.  He commented, “my friend would painstakingly describe how he saw his son withering away in front of his eyes.”

• The Village Voice published a profile of Masai Stewart, a 23-year-old with a long history of mental illness currently incarcerated in the New York State Correctional System. Stewart was sentenced to many months of punitive segregation in the Special Housing Unit (SHU), despite a SHU exclusion law designed to keep those with mental illness out of isolation.

• Associate Professor Tamar R. Birckhead published an op-ed about a young man who spent more than 300 days in solitary confinement at Rikers. She writes, “Ismael Nazario’s experience is representative of the many thousands of young people who are held in isolation on any given day across the globe. I’ve conducted new research that reveals that approximately 30 percent of the world’s countries either employ the practice or legally condone its use.”

• Federal prosecutors rebutted arguments that a death row inmate, Gary Lee Sampson, faces cruel and unusual punishment because of the many years he will likely wait before execution. Sampson’s lawyers have also argued that “the conditions of death row confinement are equivalent to solitary confinement, but for years on end. This exacts a toll on those so incarcerated that cannot be understated.”

• The ACLU filed a motion seeking class action status for an ongoing federal lawsuit against Mississippi’s Department of Corrections, with the aim of “protecting all prisoners at the for-profit East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF)” from allegedly inhumane conditions. In a report, solitary confinement expert Dr. Terry A Kupers wrote, “taken as a whole, the conditions in solitary confinement at EMCF are the worst I have witnessed in my 40 years as a forensic psychiatrist investigating jail and prison conditions.”

• Writing for Pacific Standard, Jessica Pishko describes a growing movement “to keep architects and designers from working on spaces designed for solitary confinement and execution.”

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