Seven Days in Solitary [6/21/15]

by | June 21, 2015

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.

• Terrence Pendergrass, a former captain at Rikers Island, was sentenced to five years in prison for violating the civil rights of an inmate who died under his watch. Jason Echevarria, 25, was in a mental health isolation ward when he swallowed a highly toxic soap ball; his pleas for help were ignored and he was later found dead in his cell.

• Six individuals on death row at California’s San Quentin prison are suing the state for keeping them in indefinite solitary confinement. One of the men has been in isolation for 26 years.

• Ky Peterson, a transgender man being held in solitary confinement at a women’s facility in Georgia, has allegedly tried to commit suicide. Peterson is serving 20 years for the involuntary manslaughter of his rapist.

• The mother of Kalief Browder, Venida, has begun speaking publicly about what her son experienced at Rikers Island and his subsequent suicide. Kalief, who was incarcerated as a teenager and spent long periods of time in isolation, killed himself earlier this month. The Washington Post published an op-ed opposing the use of solitary confinement for young people, and the Los Angeles Times published a related editorial.

• A Hawaii woman held in solitary confinement for the last two weeks for alleged “misconduct” says she was assaulted by the prison guard involved in the incident.

• The Marshall Project published a series of articles examining conditions of confinement in German prisons. According to one piece, “the maximum time inmates spend in any kind of punitive solitary is eight hours.”

• The New York State Assembly passed a bill that would ban the use of solitary confinement for anyone under the age of 21. If it becomes law, the bill would also prohibit isolation for people with mental illness.

• In an unusual separate opinion, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said that it may soon be time for judges to limit the use of long-term solitary confinement in prison. “Years on end of near-total isolation exacts a terrible price,” he wrote, “even for prisoners sentenced to death, solitary confinement bears ‘a further terror and a peculiar mark of infamy.’”


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