Seven Days in Solitary [8/30/2015]

round-up-image-300x300The 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 68-year-old woman from North Carolina was arrested and put in solitary as punishment for having walked away from a halfway house almost 40 years ago because of a family emergency, with just two months left in her sentence. Prison officials said the age of the individual or severity of the crime are not normally factors in meting out the punishment of 45 days in solitary for individuals who have escaped from an institution.

• NPR concluded its three-report series on solitary with a look at the push for reform of the practice in New York. The second part of the series explored positive changes in New Mexico that saw the rate of use of solitary fall from 10 per cent of the prison population to 6 per cent in the past two years.

• Wikileaks hacktivist Jeremy Hammond has been held in solitary confinement for more than six weeks at the Federal Correction Institution in Manchester, Kentucky. Hammond was told he was put in solitary pending an investigation by internal prison police, but has not been told what he is being investigated for or how long he will be forced to remain in solitary.

• HBO and VICE have released the trailer for Fixing the System, a documentary about President Obama’s historical visit to a federal prison in July. The visit came just days after Obama announced a review of the overuse of solitary confinement across the country.  The documentary will air September 27.

• A Delaware judge is deciding whether to continue to hold a man in solitary despite the fact that his conviction and death sentence were overturned in January. Isaiah McCoy has been in solitary for six years and is simply requesting a return to general population pending the retrial. The new trial was ordered because of errors by the judge and prosecutor, so egregious that the prosecutor was suspended for professional misconduct in the case.

• Virginia is relaxing restrictions for individuals on death row in response to a lawsuit of the almost constant conditions of solitary that individuals are held in. The eight people on death row are being allowed weekly contact visits with family and more opportunities for showers and recreation.

• The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an individual held in Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo has a cause of action for cruel and unusual punishment for being held in an unventilated cell with a non-working toilet for at least seven days. The claim alleges he was subject to three periods of solitary in cells reeking of excrement and was at one point left in a cell naked for two weeks.

• In California, supporters continue to rally for the passage of SB 124, which would ban the use of solitary confinement of youth for more than four hours and prohibit its use as a form of punishment.

• US Attorney General Loretta Lynch has ordered a lockdown of accused al-Qaeda supporter Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh, claiming there is a high probability he may try to order a terrorist attack from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York. Al Farekh’s lawyer called the treatment “barbaric” and cited United Nations policy that says long-term indefinite solitary confinement is considered torture.

• An immigrant rights group in Arizona claims that an individual was put in month-long solitary for speaking to the media about conditions at the privately-run detention centre. The man’s wife also says he was targeted for trying to organize a strike.

• A man is suing the state of New Hampshire for placing him in the prison’s Special Handling Unit for violating prison rules by failing to shave his thick beard. Prison officials claim the beard could be used to hide weapons or drugs but the man says it is a necessary part of his Taoist beliefs.

• A Chicago group of LGBTQ prison abolitionists has started a project to gather and publish the experiences of individuals in solitary confinement. The group notes that LGBTQ individuals are often put in solitary under the auspices of their own protection, in addition to administrative and disciplinary reasons that all individuals face.

Democracy Now! featured an interview with Sarah Shourd, a Solitary Watch Contributing Editor who spent over a year in solitary confinement in an Iranian prison, about her new play Opening the Box, which is based on the experiences of people in solitary.

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Report Blasts Conditions at District of Columbia Jail

Much has been written of late about the emergence of a bipartisan consensus on the need for criminal justice reform, encompassing both the White House and Congress. If this is true, the President and members of Congress would do well to start their reform efforts close to home, at the District of Columbia jail. The […]

Cell Light

Seven Days in Solitary [8/23/15]

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 York Times investigation found that men at the Clinton Correctional Facility in New York faced retribution after the escape of two individuals earlier this year. Dozens […]

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Chelsea Manning Faces Solitary Confinement for Reading Materials, Other Minor Infractions

Update August 19, 10:45 am:  Chelsea Manning was found guilty at her disciplinary hearing on Tuesday but avoided a sentence of solitary confinement. “I was found guilty of all four charges at today’s board; I am receiving 21 days of restrictions on recreation – no gym, library or outdoors,” announced a tweet from her official Twitter […]

Solitary confinement news roundup: 7 Days in Solitary

Seven Days in Solitary [8/16/2015]

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. • Journalist Raven Rakia explores the class-action lawsuit filed in June against the Illinois Department of Corrections, which alleges that the state’s use of solitary confinement violates the Constitution. Allan Mills of […]

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Prison Watchdog Says Solitary Confinement in Canada Is “Out of Control”

A recent report showing an upsurge in the occurrence of solitary confinement in Canadian prisons, and its disproportionate use for Black and Aboriginal individuals and those with mental health issues, shocked even Canada’s outgoing prison ombudsman. “I have looked at segregation in significant detail over the last several years and I was still surprised to […]

Solitary confinement news roundup: 7 Days in Solitary

Seven Days in Solitary [8/9/2015]

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. • Four United States senators introduced a bill that would prohibit the solitary confinement of children tried in the federal system and held in pretrial facilities and juvenile detention facilities. […]

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Can International Laws and Standards Help Curb Solitary Confinement in the United States?

The United States prides itself in being a leader in the international community. But when it comes to some human rights issues—including the use of solitary confinement—the U.S. lags far behind most other nations. Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, many new declarations, treaties, and standards have been produced […]

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Voices from Solitary: A Second-by-Second Attack on Your Soul

The following is a collection of excerpts from an interview with Johnny Perez, who went to prison at the age of 21 and served a total of 13 years in various New York City and State facilities. He spent an accumulated three years in solitary confinement, with his longest consecutive stay being ten months. Since his 2013 release, Perez […]

Solitary confinement news roundup: 7 Days in Solitary

Seven Days in Solitary [8/2/2015]

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. • Four House of Representatives members – two Republicans and two Democrats – are proposing legislation to study and make recommendations about the use of isolation in prisons across the […]

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom handed down a ruling this week against the use of prolonged solitary confinement without mandatory external review.

British Supreme Court Rules Against Unlawful Use of Prolonged Solitary Confinement

Britain’s highest court has ruled that putting individuals in solitary confinement for an extended period of time without external review is unlawful. The appellants Kamel Bourgass and Tanvir Hussain were both wrongfully held in solitary for more than six months because the process lacked oversight, the UK Supreme Court ruled. “The decisions to continue the […]

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Voices from Solitary: Segregation Medical

The following account is by Casha Russell, who has spent the past eight months in the segregation unit at Illinois’s Logan Correctional Facility, a women’s prisons three hours south of Chicago. Russell was sentenced to one year in segregation for allegedly burning her wife and co-defendant with hot water. (Both Russell and her wife insist […]

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