Seven Days in Solitary [6/5/2016]

Our Weekly Roundup of News and Views on Solitary Confinement

by | June 5, 2016

• Rhode Island’s House Judiciary Committee was scheduled to consider legislation that would create a commission to study the use of solitary confinement in the state’s prisons. Representative Aaron Regunberg, who is sponsoring the legislation, had previously proposed a bill that would limit the use of isolation to 15 days.

• A British man has told the BBC he was placed in solitary confinement in a US prison as punishment for fighting his extradition. “I said ‘yes, I went through my legal process through the channels that are open to me,” Christopher Tappin recalled telling an unnamed warden. “‘Well boy, that’s the reason why [you’re in solitary confinement],’” the warden allegedly replied. “‘You oppose the US, this is what happens to you.’”

• According to a new article by Jennifer Gonnerman, “Kalief Browder learned how to commit suicide on Rikers [Island].” The New Yorker journalist also shared an interview recording on the site, “in which [Browder] described the psychological toll of spending years in a twelve-by-seven cell.”

• About a dozen people locked up at Waupun Correctional Institute are set to go on hunger strike on June 10 to protest the use of administrative segregation, a non-punitive form of solitary confinement that can sometimes be indefinite. One person incarcerated in the state, LaRon McKinley Bey, has been held in ad-seg for 25 years.

• The Supreme Court has announced it will consider the case of Bobby Moore, a Texas death row prisoner who alleges the 15 years he has spent in solitary confinement while fighting his execution constitute a violation of the Eighth Amendment. “If the court takes up the case, its ruling could have profound implications for the nation’s nearly 3,000 death row inmates, who are often confined to solitary cells and await execution for an average of more than 15 years,” writes Stephanie Mencimer in Mother Jones.

• A group of activists are walking from Chicago to Thomson, Illinois, to protest the activation of the nation’s second federal supermax. “We oppose the plans of the Bureau of Prisons to open a new facility in Thomson, Ill.,” said Voices for Creative Nonviolence co-coordinator Buddy Bell.

• South Carolina is set to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging the mistreatment of people with disabilities in the state’s prisons. The lawsuit was filed eight years ago, after an individual with mental illness died after being kept in solitary confinement for 11 days, during which time he was kept naked and cold. “This is possibly an historic day for justice, one we have been seeking for a decade,” said Executive Director of Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities Gloria Prevost.

• North Dakota is radically changing its approach to solitary confinement according to an article published in the Bismark Tribune, which reported that “officials reduced the number of people in seclusion by about 70 percent from its peak over the past year.” A second article by the outlet considers the challenges of repurposing a now- empty segregation unit.



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