Seven Days in Solitary [11/24/13]

by | November 24, 2013

Pictured: Solitary confinement cellThe 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 new ACLU report A Living Death describes the more than 3,000 Americans serving life without parole for nonviolent crimes. The report was the subject of a New York Times editorial entitled “Sentenced to a Slow Death.” Included in the dozens of personal stories featured in the report are many accounts of long stays in solitary confinement.

• Cyber-activist Jeremy Hammond was sentenced to ten years in federal prison for hacking a private intelligence firm, reports Rolling Stone. Hammond spent months in pre-trial solitary confinement at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan.

• A man incarcerated at the Potosi Correctional Center in Missouri reports that 15 people in the prison’s administrative segregation unit have been on hunger strike since October 13.

• The ACLU Blog of Rights reports on the federal lawsuit Coleman v. Brown, which is “the first statewide case aimed at getting all mentally ill people in California out of solitary confinement.”

• Fahad Hashmi, who is being held at the federal supermax ADX Florence following his controversial conviction on terrorism-related charges, has been banned from receiving an issue of The Nation that contains an article about his own imprisonment.

• The New York Times reports on the extensive use of solitary confinement on adolescents with mental illness on New York’s Rikers Island.

• The ACLU has released a new report, Alone & Afraid: Children Held in Solitary Confinement and Isolation in Juvenile Detention and Correctional Facilities. The report documents, the psychological, physical, and developmental harm done to children subjected to isolation.

Slate recounts the history of the US Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and its “transformation…from a progressive facility to an isolating and restrictive ‘Special Management Unit,’ or SMU—a shift that mirrors the evolution of the U.S. prison system in general.”

BuzzFeed published a feature on the Photo Requests from Solitary project, in which people held in long-term isolation are given the opportunity to request one image, and photographers volunteer to fulfill their requests.

Common Dreams documents the retaliatory measures still being faced by individuals who participated in the California Prison Hunger Strike. Many have been charged with rule violations that could extend their time in solitary or endanger their chances of parole.

• The New Mexico Department of Corrections has announced that it will “review” the nearly 10 percent of its prisoners who are held in isolation, and seek to reduce their numbers significantly, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

• The National Religious Campaign Against Torture has released a “toolkit” on “Confronting Solitary Confinement in an Age of Mass Incarceration,” in preparation for Human Rights Day on December 10.


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