Seven Days in Solitary [5/8/2016]

Our Weekly Roundup of News and Views on Solitary Confinement

by | May 8, 2016

• The Guardian continued its coverage of solitary confinement, publishing an article penned by Chelsea Manning and a video featuring NYC activist Johnny Perez. Also released was investigation into the use of isolation in Florida – where one in five prisoners with mental illness is held in solitary confinement.

• A Florida man has spent the last 291 days in solitary confinement at the request of state prosecutors, according to an article published in a local outlet. Quentin Mills, who is currently locked up at the Duval County Jail, has never been in a fight or threatened to harm himself or anyone else on the inside.

• The New England Journal of Medicine published a perspective piece on solitary confinement. “The medical community can respond to President Obama’s recent action on solitary confinement by questioning the health-related consequences of isolating more than 400,000 persons in our jails and prisons each year,” write the authors.

• A federal judge ruled that a lawsuit could go forward which challenges the use of solitary confinement for children locked up in Tennessee, although he did not issue an injunction immediately barring the practice. In April, District Judge Todd Campell ordered a 15-year-old boy released from isolation at the Rutherford County Juvenile Detention Center; last week a news station released a video of another child being held in solitary in the county, at the adult jail.

• The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to strictly limit to use of solitary confinement in its 16 juvenile facilities. Under the new rules, isolation will only be used “as a temporary response to behavior that poses a serious and immediate risk of physical harm to any person.”

• The director of Rhode Island’s Department of Corrections has come out in opposition of legislation – recently introduced into the state legislature – that would sharply limit the use of solitary confinement in the state’s prisons. “I don’t want to see our staff in a position where they can’t take the steps that are necessary because the limitations are enshrined in a statute,” said director A.T. Wall. Meanwhile, the Providence Journal published an editorial in support of the legislation.

• A federal judge has ruled that a lawsuit can proceed against the FBI, after a cooperating witness alleged that “federal agents had him arrested on a bogus murder-for-hire charge and ‘engineered’ his placement in solitary confinement for 15 months.” Joseph Barone said that his FBI handler “threatened to prosecute him for activities the FBI normally allowed as part of his cover unless he participated in a ‘high risk’ scheme to identify organized crime figures by using monitored phone calls.”


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