Seven Days in Solitary [9/06/2015]

by | September 6, 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.

• Coverage continued of the landmark settlement reached in California. The New York Times published an editorial supporting the development, and a Guardian story featured the stories and experiences of SHU survivors. Meanwhile, the California Assembly put on hold a bill to limit the use of isolation in juvenile correctional facilities.

• The American Association of State Correctional Administrators – which includes corrections leaders from each state as well as leaders of large city jails – issued a statement supporting efforts to curb or end long-term solitary confinement. “Prolonged isolation of individuals in jails and prisons is a grave problem in the United States.”

• Lawyers for Albert Woodfox, the last incarcerated member of the Angola 3, argued in court that he is too ill to survive a third trial for a 1972 murder (his two previous convictions for the offense were thrown out). During his time in prison, Woodfox has spent over four decades in isolation.

• NPR hosted the head of Washington’s Department of Corrections to speak about changes made to the use of solitary confinement. The state will soon open a “blue room” in its super-max prison, which will enable those held in isolation to spend their hour of recreation watching nature videos projected onto the wall.

• The Yale School of Law and the Association of State Correctional Administrators published a report on the use of administrative segregation in America’s state and federal prisons. According to the report, in 2014 80,000-100,000 men were held in isolation. Arkansas had the highest use of administrative segregation.

• New York City Corrections Commissioner Joseph Ponte announced a new plan to move 18 to 21 year olds to a single facility by the end of the year, where they would attend classes and be exempt from solitary confinement.

• The state of Idaho will no longer put individuals in cells that have no toilets, mattresses, or sinks, and will also reevaluate its solitary confinement policies, according to an announcement. The state has about 515 beds in segregation units and about 11 so-called “dry cells.”

• Two New Mexico men had court hearings to challenge their placement in long-term solitary confinement in the state.

• Alaska Ombudsman Linda Lord-Jenkins has found that the state’s Department of Corrections mishandled several cases. One person was allegedly held in solitary confinement for 2 years without ever being told why.


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