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 […]

Voices from Solitary: “Suicide Is Preferable to Long-Term Segregation” in Solitary Confinement

Monroe Correctional Complex. (Photo: Ambia-Inc.com)

The following comes from a man currently incarcerated at Washington State’s Monroe Correctional Complex. The Washington State corrections system has been said by local media to use solitary confinement less than other states, with only 2.7 percent of prisoners (or ~400) in long-term solitary confinement. However, Solitary Watch has noted that the figure is actually twice this, […]

The “Vicious Cycles” Created by Solitary Confinement

Intensive Management Unit in Washington State Correctional Center

In 1993, Dr. Stuart Grassian, following extensive interviews with men in California’s Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit (SHU), reported that extensive periods in solitary confinement lead to what he referred to as a “syndrome” particular to prison isolation units. Anxiety, ruminations, panic attacks, aggression, paranoia, and psychotic symptoms were observed as a consequence of […]

As Washington State Prisons Begin Reforms, 800 Remain in Solitary Confinement

IMU at Stafford Creek Correctional Center, Credit: TONY OVERMAN

On January 7th, the Seattle Times reported that “Washington’s prisons are at the forefront of a new approach to solitary confinement, finding that a new focus on rehabilitation may calm some inmates’ behavior in prison and prevent violence once they are back on the street.” The article reports: [Washingon] began reconsidering solitary after violent clashes […]

Washington Prisoner Subjected to Solitary Confinement for “Involuntary Protection”

A recent News Tribune article highlighted the relatively limited use of solitary confinement in Washington state. Only 2.7 percent of the state’s 17,800 inmates, or about 400, are currently held at the maximum custody level. According to Washington Department of Corrections policy, those placed in the Intensive Management Unit (IMU) are there for either being disruptive to […]

Voices from Solitary: Washington Cell Extraction

The following was sent to Solitary Watch from an inmate in Washington. He describes a recent “cell extraction”–the forcible removal of a prisoner from his cell–which he witnessed in a solitary confinement “Intensive Management Unit.” He discusses the use of cell extractions in relation to the claim by corrections officials that such actions are necessary for the safety of […]

Voices from Solitary: Walla Walla IMU

Robert Longworth was awarded First Place in memoir in the PEN American Center’s 2010 Prison Writing Contest, for his piece about life in solitary confinement in the  Intensive Management Unit, or IMU, at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Longworth provides this biography on the PEN website: “I am a forty-five year old state-raised prisoner. And, […]

Inmate Allegedly Placed in Solitary for Refusing to Bribe Guards

This story by Adam Lynn, about Washington state’s McNeil Island Correctional Center in Puget Sound, appeared recently in The Olympian. It’s one extreme example of the retaliatory use of solitary confinement by prison staff.  The guardians of a state prison inmate who suffered brain damage when he tried to hang himself claim in a lawsuit that at the time he […]