Pennsylvania Prison System Faces Lawsuit Over Suicide of Young Man with Mental Illness

Brandon Palakovic with his mother, Renee Palakovic.

On July 17, 2012, Brandon Palakovic, 23, committed suicide by hanging himself in his cell while housed in a solitary confinement unit at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Cresson, a Pennsylvania prison that has since closed its doors. Nearly two years later, on July 8, 2014, Palakovic’s parents filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC). […]

Voices from Solitary: What Have You Done to My Brother?

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The author of the following piece, K. Kabasha Griffin-El, is currently part of the general population at Pennsylvania’s SCI Greene. In this reflection, Griffin-El describes visiting his brother, Jerome Griffin, whom he hadn’t seen for more than two decades. Griffin-El has been incarcerated for 19 years and experienced solitary confinement firsthand, but nothing prepared him […]

Seven Days in Solitary [1/19/13]

Solitary confinement cell

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. • An NPR report by Laura Sullivan discusses the treatment of people with mental illness in Chicago’s Cook County Jail–and in jails around the country–including the extensive use of solitary […]

Seven Days in Solitary [1/5/14]

Solitary confinement news roundup: 7 Days in Solitary

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. • The Indo American News reports on the story of Akaash Dalal, an Indian American teen who was arrested for bombing four New Jersey synagogues. Dalal pleaded guilty, and […]

Seven Days in Solitary [12/15/13]

Solitary confinement cell

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. • Alan Prendergast reports in Westword that the Colorado Department of Corrections has directed its wardens to stop sending people with mental illness to solitary confinement. (Look for more […]

Suicide in Solitary: A Mother Remembers Her Son

RHU Cell

Yesterday we published a guest post by the Human Rights Coalition (HRC) about the U.S. Department of Justice’s scathing report on the Pennsylvania prison SCI Cresson. According to the DOJ, “Cresson routinely locks prisoners with serious mental illness in their cells for roughly 23 hours per day for months, even years, at a time. At Cresson, the […]

U.S. DOJ Documents Torturous Treatment of Prisoners with Mental Illness in Pennsylvania Solitary Confinement Unit

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Guest Post by the Human Rights Coalition Editors’ Note: The following article is reprinted from a special edition of the PA Prisons Report, a publication of the Human Rights Coalition. HRC is a Pennsylvania-based “group of prisoners’ families, ex-prisoners, and supporters” which believes that “the prison system reflects all inequalities in our society, and it does not […]

Russell Maroon Shoatz: Resisting the “Spiritual Death” of Solitary Confinement

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Guest Post by Kanya D’Almeida and Bret Grote “Control unit facilities cannot be allowed to exist,” writes Russell Maroon Shoatz in a piece called “Death by Regulation.” “They serve no purpose other than to dehumanize their occupants. Our collective welfare demands that we do everything within our power to bring about an end to this […]

Lawsuit Filed Against Solitary Confinement of 800 “Seriously Mentally Ill” in Pennsylvania

RHU cell of prisoner Matthew Bullock, who committed suicide in 2009.

The Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania  (DRNP) has filed a lawsuit against John Wetzel, the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, charging that the confinement of prisoners in Restricted Housing Units (RHUs) amounts to “cruel and unusual punishment” of those diagnosed as “seriously mentally ill.” The suit seeks an end to long-term segregation of such individuals […]

Guarding the Fortresses: How Prison Policies Limit Media Access to Solitary Confinement

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Journalists face serious obstacles to reporting on prisons–and even more to uncovering the truth about solitary confinement. (See James Ridgeway’s essay “Fortresses of Solitude.”) Public oversight of governmental institutions, which can help to prevent corruption and abuse by those in power, is seen as a hallmark of an engaged, democratic citizenry. However, when it comes […]