Seven Days in Solitary [1/31/2016]

Our Weekly Roundup of News and Views on Solitary Confinement

by | January 31, 2016

• A Syracuse 16-year-old is suing the Onondaga County Justice Center for allegedly placing him in solitary confinement for more than two months. According to one local site, “Chief Onondaga County Custody Deputy Esteban Gonzalez called [the teenager’s housing conditions] ‘segregation housing’ in a response to the lawsuit, saying that the conditions “do not meet the criteria or the level that (solitary confinement) implies.”

• Solitary Watch founders and co-editors Jim Ridgeway and Jean Casella were featured in a New Yorker story.

• The Nation published a groundbreaking investigation into a string of deaths at the Bureau of Prisons’ privatized, immigrant-only facilities. One man locked up in these prisons, 28-year-old Jesus Enrique Zavala Montes, who had a known history of mental illness and self harm, committed suicide while in the SHU in March 2013.

• The Guardian’s David Smith addresses the culture of secrecy that remains in US prisons, despite Obama’s proposed crackdown on solitary confinement. “The concealed nature of the practice condemned by Obama as ‘an affront to our common humanity’ illustrates the scale of the challenge that remains,” he writes. The Washington Post also traced the limits of the reforms.

• A survivor of childhood solitary confinement, now in law school, writes about his experiences for TIME. “Given my experience, my response to President Barack Obama’s ban on solitary confinement for juveniles and low-level offenders in federal facilities is tempered.”

• The Executive Director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture addressed why “labor unions should heed Obama’s call to reform solitary confinement.”

• Advocates in North Carolina, and lawmakers in New Mexico, are seeking state prohibitions on putting children in solitary confinement following President Obama’s remarks.

• Indiana’s Department of Corrections has reached a settlement to sharply limit the placement of people with mental illness in solitary confinement. The settlement is the result of a 2008 lawsuit brought by the state’s ACLU. [Covered by BuzzFeed and others].


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