In Virginia's Prisons, Hundreds Still Trapped in Solitary Confinement Despite Reforms — and Denials

Solitary Confinement: Reviewing the Reforms In 2016, the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) announced it had significantly reduced its use of solitary confinement, particularly in the state’s two supermax facilities, Red Onion and Wallens Ridge. The reforms were welcome news: Five years earlier, the Washington Post reported that five percent of people in Virginia’s prisons […]

Seven Days in Solitary [6/3/18]

• The 2014 wrongful death case of 57-year-old James Embry has been revived, and WDRB News obtained a video showing Embry emaciated in the last moments of his life. Embry starved to death in solitary confinement, after refusing 35 out of his 36 last meals at the Kentucky State Penitentiary, where he had been sentenced […]

Seven Days in Solitary [5/13/18]

• Solitary Watch obtained a copy of a letter to prison and corrections department officials, written by some of the men in the solitary confinement unit at Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland, expressing their desire to meet with prison officials and discuss the conditions in their unit. The letter declared that of they did not receive […]

Seven Days in Solitary [5/6/18]

• The Vera Institute of Justice’s Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative released a new report called “Rethinking Restrictive Housing,” which studied the use of solitary confinement in prisons and jails across five states. The report found that young men, people with mental illnesses, and people of color were disproportionately subjected to solitary confinement. The report’s […]

Seven Days in Solitary [4/15/18]

• Disability Rights Oregon (DRO) published a report following up on a previous report that they released in May 2015, which revealed the Oregon State Penitentiary has been holding about 40 severely mentally ill individuals in solitary confinement at the Behavioral Health Unit, isolated in their cells for at least 23 hours a day. After […]

Seven Days in Solitary [3/4/18]

• The Denver Post reported on the reforms taking place in Colorado’s Division of Youth Services (DYS), which have drastically reduced the use of solitary confinement for youth and resulted in a decrease of violence in most facilities. The reforms aim to move the state juvenile correctional system from a punitive jail environment to a […]

Seven Days in Solitary [2/25/18]

• The Washington Post reported that federal judge Leonie M. Brinkema ruled unconstitutional the state of Virginia’s practice of placing death row individuals in solitary confinement. In 2015, Virginia allegedly stopped placing individuals with death sentences in solitary confinement, but the state had refused to maintain this prohibition. However, Brinkema, the first federal judge to determine […]

Seven Days in Solitary [1/7/17]

• A federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of six women against Alameda County, the Alameda County Sheriff’s office, and individual deputies for the alleged “barbaric” and “inhumane” treatment of pregnant women held at the Santa Rita Jail in California. According to the East Bay Times, the lawsuit claims that one woman was misdiagnosed with […]

Seven Days in Solitary [10/15/17]

• The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on a visit to Pennsylvania’s prisons by Are Høidal, warden of Halden prison in Norway, which is often cited as having the most humane prison system in the world. While Pennsylvania currently holds more than 2,000 people in solitary confinement, Halden has no solitary unit at all. “I  think you have too much […]

Pressure Grows in Canada for Strict Limits on the Use of Solitary Confinement in Federal and Provincial Prisons

The use of solitary confinement in Canada could soon undergo major changes as prominent figures and organizations issue ever louder calls to reform the practice – or even abolish it entirely. “Ending segregation is not a revolutionary, unrealistic, or aspirational idea,” says Renu Mandhane, Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. “It is primarily […]