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.
• South Carolina has paid $1.2 million to the estate of an individual who contracted hypothermia after spending 11 days in solitary confinement without any clothing. Jerome Laudman, who had mental health issues and developmental disabilities, was found dead in his supermax cell in February 2008.
• Journalist Martha Bellisle explores an ongoing crisis in Washington state – the wait lists that leave individuals with mental illness languishing in jails. People who are deemed incompetent to face charges – and are ordered to undergo treatment – often spend week or months in solitary confinement while they await a free hospital bed.
• This week, New York City’s Board of Corrections is set to vote on new regulations regarding the use of solitary confinement on Rikers Island. Included in the proposal is the creation of “enhanced supervision housing” units (ESHU), which “would allow wardens to lock 250 inmates in their cells up to 17 hours a day” – a plan which has come under stinging criticism from prisoners’ rights advocates across the city.
• Pennsylvania has reached a settlement in a lawsuit between the state’s Department of Corrections and the Disability Rights Network. Prisoners with “serious mental illnesses” will no longer be placed in solitary confinement, and will instead be moved to treatment units that allow at least 20 hours of out-of-cell time per week.
• The UK’s Telegraph published an article entitled, “My 19 days in solitary confinement on Alcatraz.”
• Mustafa Kamel Mustafa – commonly referred to in the press as Abu Hamza – has been sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of several terrorism-related charges. The judge in his case rejected an appeal by Abu Hamza’s lawyers to have him placed in a special medical facility, as opposed to a federal supermax facility like ADX Florence, due to his physical disabilities.
• Illinois officials are investigating a death that occurred on January 3, in a solitary confinement cell at Stateville Correctional Center. Shawn Craig, 40, appears to have committed suicide by hanging himself from a torn sheet, but the official cause of death is still pending.