Seven Days in Solitary [8/16/2015]
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.
• Journalist Raven Rakia explores the class-action lawsuit filed in June against the Illinois Department of Corrections, which alleges that the state’s use of solitary confinement violates the Constitution. Allan Mills of the Chicago-based Uptown People’s Law Center said, “Solitary has been used for decades and continues to be used today for anybody to make any sort of move to stand up for their own selves or to try to better the system as a whole.”
• Chelsea Manning, who is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking classified material, could potentially be placed in indefinite solitary confinement for violating Fort Leavenworth’s military prison rules. Manning is charged with a number of disciplinary infractions, including having expired toothpaste, and being in possession of an issue of Vanity Fair.
• Debate continues over where the remaining Guantanamo detainees should be held, should they ever be transferred onto American soil. Obama administration officials have maintained that Thomson, the BOP’s second federal supermax facility soon set to open in Illinois, is no longer an option on the table.
• In states across the country, jails sometimes hold young people charged as adults, yet because of federal legislation they are often held in solitary confinement for their own protection, according to an article published by The New York Times. The Washington Post also published a story about children held in isolation in adult facilities.
• A man who was held in solitary confinement for 45 years was killed on a California prison exercise yard just days after being released into general population. Prison officials should have known that 71-year-old Hugo “Yoni” Pinell was in danger, according to Pinell’s lawyer.
• Several advocacy groups have sent a letter to the Justice Department, asking for an investigation into North Carolina’s use of solitary confinement. The request comes one week after the state agreed to pay $2.5 million to the family of individual who died in isolation.
• NY Mag published an in-depth investigation into “The Movement Against Solitary Confinement.” “What to do about people with long records of genuine violence is the hardest question in the whole arena of crime, and the most stubborn issue in the social science that surrounds it,” writes Benjamin Wallace-Wells. “But campaigning against capital punishment doesn’t really begin to answer that question. Trying to fix solitary confinement does.”
• Solitary confinement in New Jersey’s prisons and jails was explored in a Philly.com article.
• VICE published an article entitled, “Inmates Say the Director of the Bureau of Prisons Lied About Solitary Confinement” – in which several prisoners respond to Director Samuels’ recent Congressional testimony that “[The BOP does] not practice solitary confinement.”
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You reported correctly that;
“A man who was held in solitary confinement for 45 years was killed on a
California prison exercise yard just days after being released into general
But the Sacramento Bee reported that:
“Pinell spent much of his time in prison in solitary confinement at his request. In 1987, he told The Bee that he stayed in his cell in Folsom to avoid his enemies. “They’re not going to give up now,” he said. “That’s the way it is.””
His original crime:
“An unmarried (white) female 22 years of age was walking home along Broadway near Polk Street in San Francisco at about 2:30 a.m. on October 12, 1964, when she was brutally attacked and severely injured by Hugo Pinell. He forced her into an automobile driven by Felix Torres and the two men then proceeded to drive her to Julio Pinell’s home at 228 Laussat Street. Hugo was Julio’s nephew and Torres had been staying with Julio at the Laussat Street address. The victim was taken to a bedroom by her assailants, undressed and subjected to acts of rape, copulation and sodomy by Hugo Pinell.”
Before killing the guard in Soledad he killed one in San Quentin.
Excerpt from Edward Bunker’s “Education of a Felon”:
In San Quentin “Yogi Pinell, made a spear by rolling up pages of a magazine and fastening a stabbing device at the end. He managed to stab and kill a guard through the bars.”
Unfortunately I think the killing of Pinell will only prevent others from ever being released from solitary.
As the above ABC’s piece reports.
“Prison officials are reviewing every inmate to see who can be transferred out of the segregation units.”
“We are each our own devil, and make this world our hell.”
Oscar Wilde in Duchess of Padua (Act 4)