Pennsylvania Legislators to Hold Hearing on Solitary Confinement

by | September 12, 2012

On Tuesday, September 18th the Pennsylvania House Democratic Party Policy Committee will hold a hearing entitled “Effects of Solitary Confinement.” The hearing will feature testimony from Dr. Terry Kupers, Dr. Craig Haney, former Restricted Housing Unit inmate LuQman Abdullah, and others. The hearing will be at 10:00 AM at Temple University, President’s Conference Suite, First Floor, 1810 Liacouras Walk, in Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania currently holds five percent, nearly 2,500, of inmates in solitary confinement out of 50,000 inmates. Pennsylvania’s isolation units have recently made news for the deaths of inmates in custody. In April, inmate John Carter was found dead in his cell. In July, inmate Brandon Palakovic committed suicide. Solitary Watch has also reported the case of the Dallas 6, a group of inmates violently cell extracted following a non-violent protest at SCI-Greene. An interview with freed Dallas 6 inmate Derrick Stanley can be read here.

Inmate Ricardo “Truth” Noble wrote about the experience of the RHU, “In the RHU life is intense. Especially in the beginning weeks or months. As time passes your mind begins to become clouded with mixed emotions, anger, guilt, hate, paranoia, hopelessness, loneliness, and other frustrations.” (The photograph shows an RHU cell at SCI-Dallas.)

Solitary Watch’s Valeria Monfrini has also produced a short documentary on solitary confinement in PA, with interviews of formerly incarcerated RHU inmates and their family members.

The hearing will address the mental health and experiential effects of solitary confinement as well as the impact it has on family members and released inmates. A copy of the agenda is below.

10:00 a.m.      Welcome and Opening Remarks

10:10 a.m.      Panel of Mental Health Experts:

*         Dr. Terry Kupers, Institute Professor, The Wright Institute

*         Dr. Craig Haney, Professor of Psychology, University of
California, Santa Cruz

10:50 a.m.      Panel of Legal Experts:

*         Jules Lobel, President, Center for Constitutional Rights

*         Marc Bookman, Executive Director, Atlantic Center for Capital

*         Angus Love, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project

*         Robert Meek, Managing Staff Attorney, Disability Rights Network of PA

11:50 a.m.      Panel of Former Inmates in Solitary Confinement:

*         Robert King

*         Hakeem Shaeed (formerly Robert Molley)

*         LuQman Abdullah, Senior Vice President, Back to Society, Inc.

*         Shujaa Graham, Vice Chair of Board, Witness to Innocence

12:20 p.m.      Panel of Testifiers with Family Members in Solitary Confinement:

*         Theresa Shoatz

*         Shandre Delaney

*         Patricia Vickers

*         Barbara Fair, Founder, My Brother’s Keeper

12:50 p.m.      Closing Remarks


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  • Sarah Benton

    I used to think that America was better than the countries whose dictators tortured. I now realize that we have always tortured. We’ve just lied about it, and Americans believed the lie.

  • 8forever

    from The Crime report–GOP Backs Mandatory Terms, Inmate Rehab; Blasts Overcriminalization August 29, 2012 09:28:47 am–
    * remember Obama okayed at least 2 new Supermaxes last year. If we as Americans commit a crime prison is the punishment we are supposed to be free from torture per our Constitution. I’m sick of this. Each mind broken and battered reflect kick backs and payments, jobs. They get XX amount of dollars to keep them mentally ill, transport etc. Feed them food not grade enough for animals isolate them, infect them. call them inmates to make themselves feel better.I have spoken to many in isolation/seg/theSHU/RHU/whatever they want to call it because “they” say they do not have solitary confinement. Speak up people let your own Senators and reps know you do not want this in your state. Have a voice while you still can/may

  • Joy

    Experiental Effects ? Right, They take away the food they were able to purchase to keep from going hungry , Are chained at the waist and hands AND schackled at the feet . Now were in the heck are they going ?
    They suffer muscle and mental atrophy due to being confined . Our animals our taken better care of. This is beyond disqusting behavior.
    This has to change. Solitary continues to breed contempt and what they have let happen will come back to those who have put these policies in place.

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