Seven Days in Solitary [6/22/14]

by | June 22, 2014

Solitary confinement news roundupThe 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.

• In The Daily Beast, Solitary Watch contributor Sarah Shourd explores the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s recently proposed “obscenity regulations” – the rules that govern what mail can go into and of the state’s prisons and jails.  As one interviewee comments, ““These prisoners are essentially being punished for trying to alert the media to conditions of extreme solitary confinement inside California’s prison.”

• Bonnie Kerness, director of the Prison Watch program of the American Friends Service Committee, writes about solitary confinement and Torture Awareness Month for Truth-Out.

• ABC News “Nightline” followed Gregg Marcantel – the Secretary of Corrections for New Mexico – as he went undercover to spend 48 hours in solitary confinement.   The outlet also published “prison diaries” from other individuals in isolation.

• In light of the recently released second season of Orange is the New Black, the ACLU published a blog post on the “scariest villain” in the prison – solitary confinement.

• A family in DeKalb County, Missouri has filed a lawsuit in the death of Timothy Harris, a 36-year-old who was being held at the Deaviess-Dekalb County Regional Jail pending trial when he passed away.  Lawyers for Harris’ family allege that he was kept in solitary confinement for twelve days without a toilet, sink or running water.

• Motherboard featured an interview with Raphael Sperry, president of the Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR).   The organization recently launched a crowd-sourcing campaign to get the American Institute of Architects to “prohibit the design of spaces that inherently violate human rights in their code of ethics,” particularly solitary confinement cells and supermax prisons.

• A South Carolina paper, The Post and Courier, published a feature piece on Randy Poindexter, who spent 16 years in solitary confinement in a state facility.  “His story illustrates the challenges in providing therapeutic care in an underfunded, understaffed correctional system built more for punishment than redemption. It also shows the resiliency of the human spirit and its ability to bounce back from a time when painting the cell walls red with his own blood was the only thing that brought Poindexter peace.”

• An individual serving a life sentence in connection to the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Tanzania has won a federal appeal, after the FBI limited his contact to 32 people.   He is incarcerated in the supermax facility in Florence, Colorado and also subject to Special Administrative Measures, which further constrain his communication with the outside world.

• A news outlet has obtained video that follows the last few hours of Christopher Lee Lopez’s life, while he is strapped into restraints at the San Carlos Correctional Facility in Pueblo, Colorado.  Lopez had recently been removed from solitary confinement after spending nine and a half months in “the box”; the video shows him having a grand mal seizure in the restraint chair, and prison guards only coming to his assistance over thirty minutes later.  A lawsuit has been filed in federal court.


Solitary Watch encourages comments and welcomes a range of ideas, opinions, debates, and respectful disagreement. We do not allow name-calling, bullying, cursing, or personal attacks of any kind. Any embedded links should be to information relevant to the conversation. Comments that violate these guidelines will be removed, and repeat offenders will be blocked. Thank you for your cooperation.


  • Jenny betenson

    Jay will you email me so I can exchange info? It’s

  • jay

    Signed petition. Will share. We have hope don’t forget

  • jay

    My fave poet Dylan Thomas… For when you feel you you are lines’banging your head against a brick wall ‘…’don’t walk gently into that there dark night…Rage, rage against the dying of the light ‘that’s for hope. Blessings.

  • jay

    Yep of course will sign. Let me know how; I’m in UK is it online? Also if i get an adress I’ll send him a direct letter of support or via your email. Got a feelin I’m meant to do this too as i can only work from home now which has put a stop to my usual non violent direct action. I can help with amnesty .int. too. My pen pal in the states has been refused his full dose of shocking as your son’s mal treatment. I’m a mum too. I offer you my support Jenny x

  • jay

    Jenny betenson you’re a true mother. Don’t forget you have friends and supporters here .

  • jay

    The report on Mr.Christopher lee lopez (grand mail seizure in restraint chair/30min for help)has left me particularly nauseated and repulsed. This is because I’m severely epileptic which is exasserbated by stress.the utter panic he would have felt during/before/after fitting is almost indescribable, even when people like me have access to medics, essential drugs, reassurance and safety.Mr. lopez had none of this.bless his heart.we have footage i think?it’s time for these sick people to be shamed,and not just lose their jobs, the system as whole taken notice of by those in high office,THE ONES YOU VOTE FOR.

  • Casey Ehresman

    I’m with Jenny. What can we do? How can this be stopped?

    • Jean Casella and James Ridgeway

      Casey: It will be a long, uphill battle, but you can begin by checking our Action page for events and organizations in your state or on the national level that are fighting solitary. You can also alleviate someone’s suffering by writing to them. The ACLU’s Stop Solitary page has information about pending reform legislation that you can support.

    • Jenny betenson

      I will write to them. I have a son in max in Draper Utah who is let out for one hour every two days. He does have once cellmate and I am currently fighting the prison to save his life because he is 25 with a mass on his tongue, weight loss, and enlarged lymph nodes. The prison has refused to do a biopsy and I have all paperwork to prove deliberate indifference. My fight for the last nine months has shown me that I need and WILL fight wherever I can to make sure this does not happen again. I don’t want to take away from your campaign here but if you would allow me to I would like to post my petition on to help save him. If not I will continue to offer support anywhere I can in the name of my son.

  • Jenny betenson

    I will not stand by and let this happen without trying to do something. We all need to stand up and fight for human rights.

Leave a Reply

Discover more from Solitary Watch

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading