At Louisiana’s Angola Prison, Lawsuit Claims, the Sick Face Neglect, Isolation, and Death

Men incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, commonly known as Angola, are suing prison officials and the Louisiana Department of Corrections for failing to provide adequate healthcare to the more than 6,000 people currently held there. In a scathing, 63-page complaint, lawyers representing Angola’s prison population allege that men are routinely denied appropriate medical care, resulting in “unnecessary pain and […]

Landmark Settlement Reached: Solitary Confinement to Be Dramatically Reduced in California Prisons

California prison officials have agreed to limit the practice of long-term solitary confinement, four years after the first hunger strike began in protest of the practice. Under a historic agreement reached in the Ashker v. Brown suit between the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of individuals in […]

Supreme Court Justice Kennedy Denounces “Human Toll” of Solitary Confinement and Invites Constitutional Challenge

Guest Post by Samuel Weiss and Amy Fettig Samuel Weiss is Ford Foundation Fellow at the ACLU’s Center for Justice. Amy Fettig is Senior Staff Counsel at the ACLU’s National Prison Project. In March, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was testifying before the House Appropriations Subcommittee when he received a question on prison overcrowding. He responded […]

Seven Days in Solitary [6/7/15]

The 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 New Jersey bill hopes to reduce the limits on solitary confinement to no more than two days in a row for 15-year-olds, no more than three for those […]

Pennsylvania Law Aimed at Silencing People Convicted of Crimes Is Declared Unconstitutional

On Tuesday, a federal judge struck down a Pennsylvania law that had the potential to severely curtail free speech for people convicted of crimes. The Revictimization Relief Act, enacted last fall, was initially aimed at silencing Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is serving a life sentence for the 1981 murder of a police officer, and whose case […]

At Ohio’s Supermax Prison, a Hunger Strike Ends But Extreme Isolation Remains

Last week, men incarcerated at Ohio’s supermax prison, the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, brought a month-long hunger strike to a close. Between 30 and 40 men had refused all meals since March 16 to protest new restrictions placed on already severely limited recreation and programming for those in solitary confinement. On Wednesday, April 15, […]

Voices from ADX: Living “Inside America’s Toughest Prison”

The New York Times Magazine feature story on the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum, or ADX, in Florence, Colorado, appeared under the headline “Inside America’s Toughest Prison.” In fact, no journalist has been inside ADX for at least 15 years, but 400 men live there, some for years or decades. The story has suddenly spurred interest […]

Supreme Court Justice Kennedy: Corrections System Is “Broken” and “Solitary Confinement Literally Drives Men Mad”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on Monday used long-term solitary confinement as evidence that the “idea of total incarceration just isn’t working.” Solitary “literally drives men mad,” Kennedy said, noting that more humane alternatives are employed elsewhere in the world. Kennedy’s comments were made during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the 2016 Budget Request for […]

In Canada, a Death in Prison Sparks Debate, Lawsuits Over Solitary Confinement

Ashley Smith was just 19 when she died in her solitary confinement cell at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ontario, in October 2007. As she had many times before, Smith tied a ligature around her neck and tightened it. For twenty long minutes, a crowd of prison guards stood watch from outside […]

After 42 Years in Solitary Confinement, Will the Angola 3’s Albert Woodfox Be a Free Man?

In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the overturning of Albert Woodfox’s conviction. Yet he may remain in prison–and in solitary confinement–for months or even years before his four-decade ordeal is over. Woodfox has been held in solitary confinement for more than 42 years for the 1972 murder […]