Seven Days in Solitary [11/17/13]
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.
• The ACLU reports on a landmark ruling by a Virginia federal court in a case brought by death row prisoner Alfredo Prieto. According to the story, District Court Judge Leona Brinkema has ruled that “the state’s automatic placement of death-row prisoners in solitary confinement… violates the right to due process guaranteed by the Constitution.”
• The Associated Press reports that a federal judge has rejected efforts by the state of North Carolina to dismiss a lawsuit over prisoner beatings that took place in Central Prison’s solitary confinement unit. “‘Your case is about sunlight, where you claim there were systematic violations,’ Boyle told the lawyers for the inmates. ‘What we need to do with this lawsuit is not bury it in a deep, dark hole and proceed with discovery.'” Solitary Watch reports on the case here.
• The Advocate reports on Albert Woodfox’s November 13 hearing to end daily strip and cavity searches, stating that U.S. District Judge James J. Brady “took Wednesday’s evidence and testimony under advisement.”
• The Atlantic reports on the story of Sam Mandez, who has been held in solitary confinement in the state of Colorado for the past 16 years for non-violent, petty prison rule violations. “[M]ade severely mentally ill by prison policies and practices, left untreated in that condition year after year by state officials, Mandez personifies the self-defeating cruelty of America’s prisons today.” Mandez’ story is featured in a new film by the ACLU, Out of Sight, Out of Mind, about mentally ill prisoners held in solitary confinement.
• In a piece entitled “Swallowing the Mentally Ill Whole,” a blogger for Psych Central discusses the inhumane treatment of prisoners with mental illness in U.S. prisons. Underscoring the detrimental effects of solitary confinement, the post states, “Because man, at his very core, is a social animal, [UCLA’s Steven] Cole believes that there’s no greater risk to health problems, including mental health problems, than isolation.”
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