Seven Days in Solitary [1/14/2016]

Our Weekly Roundup of News and Views on Solitary Confinement

by | February 14, 2016

• Excerpts from “Hell is a Very Small Place” were featured on In These Times and Longreads. The book was also reviewed by incarcerated whistleblower Chelsea Manning. The book, which is edited by Solitary Watch’s Jean Casella, Jim Ridgeway and Sarah Shourd, is the first to feature firsthand accounts of life in solitary.

• Taylor Pendergrass of the New York Civil Liberties Union responded to Norman Seabrook’s recent column, in which Seabrook criticized Obama’s recent comments on solitary confinement. “Corrections officers, who work difficult jobs — often without adequate recognition or pay — deserve representatives who have the vision to embrace changes like solitary confinement reform that will benefit their members,” wrote Pendergrass.

• Nutraloaf has been banned in Massachusetts, Minnesota and New York, but is still being served to people in solitary confinement in Florida if they are perceived to pose a security threat. Justifying the continued use of Nutraloaf, one Florida DOC official said, “If [an inmate] is endangering the safety of our staff, we take that very seriously.”

• The New York Daily News examined how New York manages and houses incarcerated trans people. “According to DOCCS, 10.8% of trans prisoners are in SHU and 2.4% are in protective custody,” they report.

• Lake County Jail in Indiana made changes with regards to the use of solitary long before the recent settlement at the state level, including by creating a “cutting-edge mental health wing” in a new building. “The way it was before, it was deplorable. They were placed in a cell by themselves with nobody to really take care of or counsel them,” said Lake County Sheriff John Buncich.

• Ashley Diamond, a trans woman who was denied medical treatment and forced into solitary confinement while incarcerated, has reached a settlement in her lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Corrections.

• Bills in California’s legislature to restrict the use of solitary confinement on children have stalled for the last four years, as reported by The Desert Sun, but State Senator Mark Leno is planning to introduce a new version of a past bill. “You have to remind yourself that these children are in our system to begin with because they are troubled. They’ve got mental health issues when they come through our door, and we exacerbate their problem,” he said.

• Texas is looking to further reduce the number of people held in solitary confinement by providing specialized treatment for those with mental illness, according to an article on Chron. “Under a new initiative that officials say has proven successful so far, the goal is to improve the offenders’ mental health enough to return them to regular cellblocks instead of isolation cells known as ‘administrative segregation.’”


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