Seven Days in Solitary [1/24/2016]

Our Weekly Roundup of News and Views on Solitary Confinement

by | January 24, 2016

• The Crime Report published a report from a two-day colloquium about the use of segregation that occurred last fall and involved corrections agencies, academic experts and advocates. The colloquium aimed to “further a national consensus on ending the over-use of extreme isolation in prisons.”

• A Colorado statistician who accused state prison officials of manipulating statistics about the use of solitary will be paid more than $280,000 in a whistleblowing settlement. According to former employee Maureen O’Keefe, prison officials had understated the number of seriously mentally ill people in solitary confinement, the number of inmates released directly from solitary confinement to the streets and how much time inmates spend outside their cells and other issues.

• Just weeks after the ACLU published a report on the placement of youth in solitary confinement, the Nebraska legislature is considering legislation that would mandate documentation of any use of isolation in juvenile facilities that lasts for longer than two hours. Legislative Bill 845 would also require juvenile facilities to complete quarterly reports on their use of solitary confinement, although it would not create any explicit limits on the use of isolation.

• The Ninth Circuit has agreed to rehear a challenge to placement in solitary confinement, this time en banc, in a case that will test the limits of habeas jurisdiction when it comes to conditions of confinement. Two prisoners, Damous Nettles and Matta Juan Santos, filed habeas petitions asking the court for relief from their placement in isolation.

• Trans people and their allies marked the first International Trans Prisoners Day of Solidarity. As RH Reality Check noted, “Under the guise of “protecting” them from other inmates, trans prisoners are often placed in solitary confinement, a practice that has been widely accepted as a form of psychological torture.”

• Solitary Watch’s Aviva Stahl published an investigative story about Daisy Meadows, a trans woman incarcerated in Nevada who once spent sixty days in the hole for stuffing her bra. “I would rather be raped every day than be in the hole,” she told Broadly.

• New Hampshire’s House criminal justice committee is considering three bills that would establish commissions to study the use of solitary confinement in the state and create restrictions on who could be placed in isolation, and for how long. The proposed bills, however, have been met with skepticism; one committee member said, “It seems like correctional officers are being painted with broad, nasty brushes.”

• A political prisoner and the last incarcerated member of the “NATO 3,” Jared Chase, is facing charges for alleged aggravated battery against a prison guard, despite an existing medical condition that impairs his ability to control emotional outbursts. A neurologist who assessed Chase found that his misconduct was “likely a result of Huntington’s disease”; Chase is believed to be currently serving a year in solitary confinement for an outburst that occurred in August 2015.


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