Seven Days in Solitary [8/24/2014]

Solitary confinement news roundupThe 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.

• Shane Bauer, who has written extensively about solitary confinement for the outlet Mother Jones, was forcibly escorted out of the American Correctional Association conference by armed guards.

• Snake River Correctional Institution in Oregon is experimenting with a “Blue Room”, where prisoners held in solitary confinement can view nature imagery for about 40 minutes each day, in lieu of the standard recreation time they would otherwise be offered. The Oregonian published an in-depth piece about the origin of the idea and why it might calm nerves and reduce disciplinary infractions.

• A correctional officer at Mercy County Correction Center in New Jersey allegedly threatened to file criminal charges against at least one female prisoner, extend her solitary confinement and deny her meals unless she performed oral sex on him, according to criminal charges filed last week. At the time, Officer John Ledbetter was a supervisor in the female solitary confinement unit; an attorney for one woman “there could be up to a dozen victims assaulted by Ledbetter.”

• New York’s City Council passed legislation that will create greater transparency around the use of solitary confinement on Rikers Island. The Department of Correction will now issue four annual reports detailing: the number of individuals held in isolation; why and for how long they are held in isolation; the number of recorded suicide attempts and any related follow-up care.

• Daniel McGowan, an environmental activist and former prisoner, was arrested from his halfway house and placed in solitary confinement in April 2013 after writing a HuffPost blog. Last week, he sued the Bureau of Prisons alleging that the arrest was unconstitutional, claiming he was retaliated against for expressing his views about the Communication Management Units, where he was held for several years.

• Florence Finkle, the deputy commissioner in charge of internal investigations at Rikers Island, has resigned from her post amidst allegations of a “deep-seated culture of violence” at the jail and the “excessive and inappropriate” solitary confinement of teenagers. According to a recently published federal report, Ms. Finkle’s office conducted “inadequate” investigations into the use of force at the facility.

• The family of a teenager who died while in solitary confinement at Rikers Island in April 2013 has filed a wrongful-death suit. According to the lawsuit, Andy Henriquez, 19, complained about chest pains and breathing but was ignored by guards; he eventually died of a ruptured aorta.

City Council Member Daniel Dromm speaks, surrounded by advocates, on the step of City Hall.

New York City Officials and Advocates Push for Change to the “Culture of Brutality” on Rikers Island

Update, 8/22/14:  On Thursday, August 21, the New York City Council passed legislation introduced by Councilman Danny Dromm of Queens that would require corrections officials to release quarterly reports documenting information about inmates being held in solitary confinement at Rikers Island jail. Presenting this information to the New York City Board of Corrections would create increased transparency […]

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Civil Rights Groups Demand Change for Transgender Women Held in Solitary in New York’s Prisons

Update, 8/20/14: Yesterday, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project released a new call to action to “Demand Safer Housing for Trans People in New York State Prisons.” After once again citing our investigation, SLRP tells the story of Synthia China Blast, a transwoman who has spent a decade in isolation in New York’s prisons, with an accompanying video […]

Solitary confinement news roundup

Seven Days in Solitary [8/17/2014]

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 man who survived three years in solitary confinement in a New Jersey prison has had his lawsuit against the state’s Department of Corrections dismissed, on the grounds […]

Solitary confinement news roundup

Seven Days in Solitary [8/10/2014]

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. • According to the latest report published by New York City’s Board of Corrections, more than 90% of those placed in disciplinary segregation at Riker’s Island do not receive […]

Michelle Smith worries about her child, Carey, a transgender woman being held in solitary confinement in a men's prison.

Transgender Women in New York State Prisons Face Solitary Confinement and Sexual Assault

A SOLITARY WATCH INVESTIGATION It was Gay Pride weekend in New York City, but the event’s celebratory spirit was absent from Michelle Scott’s tidy second-floor apartment on a leafy street near Brooklyn College. Her child, Carey Smith, is a transgender woman currently locked up in solitary confinement in Upstate Correctional Facility, a men’s supermax prison […]

A solitary confinement cell in New York State.

Voices from Solitary: Cruel and Unusual Punishment for Transgender Women

Dee Dee is a transgender woman serving a sentence of 60 years to life in New York State, where she has been held in men’s prisons. After being raped twice in general population, she was placed in solitary confinement “for her own protection,” in conditions virtually identical to those used for punishment. In this letter to […]

Prolonged isolation may damage the cerebral cortex, which is "the part of the brain that makes us most human."

What Solitary Confinement Does to the Human Brain

“Loneliness is a destroyer of humanity.”                                                                                                   […]

Solitary confinement news roundup

Seven Days in Solitary [8/3/2014]

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. • California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) introduced new policies that limit the use of force against prisoners with mental illness, including establishing strict restrictions on cell extractions from […]

Disturbing footage shows guards were ordered to use excessive force on suicidal prisoner Isaiah Moreno at Denver City Jail.

Videos Show Brutal Treatment of Prisoners with Mental Illness

Recently obtained videos which have been exposed to the public show corrections officers using extreme force on incarcerated people suffering from various forms of mental illness. Attack on a Suicidal Man at Denver City Jail Footage of one such video (shown below), taken in September of last year and later obtained by The Colorado Independent through an […]

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Voices from Solitary: Testimony of a Jailhouse Lawyer

Ty Evans is serving time in Pendleton Correctional Facility in Indiana for attempted murder. There, he became a self-taught legal advocate for other incarcerated men—a “jailhouse lawyer.”  There is no right to counsel for those serving prison sentences who seek to challenge their convictions  or their sentences–which is just one aspect of the utter failing […]

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Seven Days in Solitary [7/27/14]

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. • Footage obtained by the Colorado Independent shows excessive force being used against a man who was placed in solitary after exhibiting suicidal behavior. The man was being monitored in […]

Ricky Silva, help in close management, or solitary confinement, in Florida State Prison

Voices from Solitary: Reach Out

The following two poems come from Ricky Silva, who is currently serving a life sentence at Florida State Prison. Silva, 34, has been held in close management, or solitary confinement, for over four years. Regarding the first poem below, entitled “Killed by the Dark,” Silva expresses his sadness and anger at the suicide of another prisoner, also […]