Lawsuits Challenge the Cruelty of Decades in Solitary Confinement on Death Row

In a dissenting opinion written earlier this year, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that “If extended solitary confinement alone raises serious constitutional questions, then 20 years of solitary confinement, all the while under threat of execution, must raise similar questions, and to a rare degree, and with particular intensity.” Yet in a majority of […]

After 33 Years in Solitary Confinement, Former Black Panther Russell Shoatz Will Have His Day in Court

Russell “Maroon” Shoatz, a former Black Panther who escaped from Pennsylvania prisons twice in the 1970s, was held in solitary confinement for nearly thirty-three years, including twenty-two consecutive years, from 1991 to 2014. During that time, Shoatz was in confined to his cell, in complete social isolation, for 23-24 hours a day. He contends that his time […]

Federal Government Seeks Dismissal of Supermax Suicide Lawsuit

The U.S. government is currently contending with two federal lawsuits that challenge the torturous conditions at the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum (ADX) in Florence, Colorado. Both suits allege that the social isolation and sensory deprivation at ADX are so extreme that they drive prisoners to madness, self-mutilation, and suicide–yet the Bureau of Prisons offers them next to nothing […]