Seven Days in Solitary [9/27/2015]

by | September 27, 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.

• A Louisiana judge has rejected efforts by the lawyers of Albert Woodfox, the last member of the Angola Three still behind bars, to throw out his indictment or have his trial moved elsewhere in the state. Woodfox, who has spent several decade in solitary confinement, is now facing a third trial for the 1972 trial of a prison guard.

• New York is just one of two states that prosecutes all 16 and 17-year-olds as adults, which means young people in NY sometimes end up in adult prisons, according to Women’s eNews. These young people are held separately from the adult population – often in solitary confinement – and without many of the services and support they would receive elsewhere.

• Pennsylvania has changed its policy when it comes to housing transgender people, allowing administrators to house people in prisons that do not accord with the gender they were assigned at birth. Previously, protective custody had been the only option for transgender people who were deemed unsafe in general population.

• According to state figures, the injuries from youth-on-youth and use-of-force encounters in New Mexico’s juvenile detention centers has increased from last year. Some state officials have attributed the violence, at least in part, to the ban on the use of youth solitary, which has been in place since 2013.

• Sandy Brown, a transgender woman held in a male facility in Maryland, has gained a legal victory after an administrative law judge ruled that her treatment violated the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act. During the 66 days Brown spent in solitary confinement last winter, she was routinely harassed by guards, including by one who encouraged her to commit suicide.

• VICE, in partnership with the Marshall Project, published an article entitled “Prisons Without Punishment,” which describes a recent trip the Vera Project and correctional officials took to Germany and the Netherlands, to explore and learn about alternative prison models.

• Since early August, people held in California’s Pelican Bay Prison have been woken up every half hour by prison guards, according to inside sources and advocates. The policy is supposed to minimize self-harm and suicide at the facility, but prisoners, families and advocates say the practice amounts to sleep deprivation.

• Evie Litwok wrote about her experiences in solitary confinement for the Jewish Daily Forward. She was told she was placed in the box as punishment for writing about prison staff, after emailing out a story about a woman whose cancer had gone untreated on the inside.


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