Seven Days in Solitary [5/15/2016]
Our Weekly Roundup of News and Views on Solitary Confinement
• A Bronx woman is suing New York City for $10 million after spending more than two years in solitary confinement on Rikers Island. Candie Hailey, 32, also alleges she was subject to physical and sexual abuse by guards before eventually being acquitted on attempted murder charges and released.
• In its continuing coverage of solitary confinement, the Guardian covered the daily experiences of Tyreik Gilford, who is locked up in the Special Housing Unit in the Upstate Correctional Facility in Malone, New York. “I can see outside and the sky,” Gilford wrote in a letter. “Unfortunately, from the position of the window, I cannot see the sun rise, set, or the moon at night.”
• Jailed rancher Cliven Bundy has filed a lawsuit against Barack Obama, as well as US judge Gloria Navarro and Nevada senator Harry Reid, for the charges he is facing as well as his placement in solitary confinement. Bundy’s lawyer said the isolation is affecting his client. “It’s getting him depressed. He never sees the sun. Here is a rancher who spent his whole life outdoors … and now he is confined in a box.”
• A ten-day strike over unpaid labor and poor prison conditions ended in Alabama state prisons. Kinetik Justice, the co-founder of the Free Alabama Movement and one of the primary organizers of the strike, spoke to Democracy Now about what has been happening on the inside. Kinetik is “currently serving his 28th month in solitary for organizing a similar action in 2014.”
• Colorado’s state legislature has passed a bill that places strict limits on the use of isolation in juvenile facilities. The legislation “puts in place permanent guardrails and oversight measures to ensure that the Colorado Department of Youth Corrections never again resorts to using long-term solitary confinement to manage or punish children,” said the ACLU of Colorado.
• A man in his 36th year of solitary confinement in a Pennsylvania prison has filed a federal lawsuit for the “extreme, unusual and cruel conditions” he has faced. Arthur Johnson, who has a developmental disability, has been living in a cell “smaller than many cages used to hold animals at zoos,” according to the suit.
• The Supreme Court could consider a Texas death penalty case in which a defendant was judged to be competent based on “a 23-year-old definition of intellectual disability,” according to his lawyers. The legal team for Bobby James Moore has also argued that their client’s constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment have been violated by the years he has spent in solitary confinement on death row.
• New York City’s Department of Corrections announced it will be implementing a new “Secure Unit” to hold a small number of 18 to 21-year-olds, supposedly an alternative to isolation for young adults “with the most persist and violent behavior.” In the Gothamist, journalist Victoria Law considered, “Is Rikers’ New ‘Secure Unit’ Just Solitary Confinement By Another Name?”
• Nebraska is in the process of creating a new set of rules for placing and holding people in solitary confinement. A working group on segregation, established by recent legislation, is supposed to “provide input on the policy and advise on treatment and care of offenders in long-term segregation.”
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