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 [5/27/18]

• The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed a lawsuit this week against the forced labor practices of private prison company CoreCivic, which runs Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities including the Stewart Detention Center in Georgia. The lawsuit claims that CoreCivic’s “Dollar-a-Day” program pays immigrants nearly nothing to carry out duties that in other […]

Seven Days in Solitary [5/20/18]

• The Charlotte Observer reported that 39-year-old Kenneth Wayne Bigham committed suicide only days after being placed in solitary confinement at Mecklenburg County Jail in North Carolina, where no visitors, phone calls, or books are allowed, with the exception of religious material. A spokesperson for the NC ACLU said, “This tragedy is a terrible reminder […]

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 [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 [1/21/18]

• WTOP reported the suicide of 20-year-old Jordyn Charity, who had been held at the supermax Red Onion State Prison in Virginia. Charity was convicted  of murder at age 16 and was serving a 168-year sentence. The Virginia Department of Corrections has not revealed whether Charity was being held in solitary confinement. Though officials at the […]

Seven Days in Solitary [1/14/18]

• The Nation published an article about the case of Sharqawi Al Hajj, a man from Yemen who has been held in Guantánamo Bay for 15 years without charge. The article references a federal judge’s findings that, during his detention at Guantánamo Bay, Al Hajj suffered “patent… physical and psychological coercion,” including, as Al Hajj’s […]

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 […]

Seven Days in Solitary [03/26/2017]

• Milwaukee County Sheriff officials have said they are not responsible for the death of a newborn at their downtown jail, which occurred in July 2016. The mother of the dead infant, Shadé Swayzer, was 8 months pregnant when she was arrested. She was subsequently placed in solitary confinement. Swayzer says that when she went […]

Seven Days in Solitary [12/25/2016]

• The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Allegheny County in Pennsylvania for placing pregnant women in solitary confinement, a practice that is said to put both the mother and her child at risk. According to the lawsuit, some women have been placed in isolation in the Pittsburgh jail for relatively minor rule violations, like […]