Seven Days in Solitary [8/07/2016]
Our Weekly Roundup of News and Views on Solitary Confinement
• Mother Jones journalist Shane Bauer wrote about Damien Coestly, a prisoner Bauer met while he was reporting undercover at the Winn Correctional Center in Louisiana. Coestly has since committed suicide while he was placed in a segregation cell at the facility.
• New York City released data on the number of violent incidents at Rikers Island, announcing that “for the first six months of the year inmate assaults on staff resulting in serious injuries decreased 45% compared with the same period last year” and “the use of force by officers causing serious injuries went down 46%” – data which suggests things at the facility are getting safer, despite the decreased use of isolation. The number of people held in solitary confinement “is down by 75% since Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte took over two years ago.”
• People locked up at Wisconsin prisons in Columbia and Green Bay “may be participating in the hunger strike that a few inmates at the Waupun Correctional Institution began on June 5th,” according to Milwaukee Public Radio. Dodge County Circuit Court has ruled to allow the force-feeding of three people participating in the hunger strike, which is a protest against the state’s use of solitary confinement.
• A journalist for the Charlotte Observer chronicled the experiences of one man who has been held in solitary confinement in North Carolina’s prisons. Jason Swain, who has been in isolation for more than 4,800 straight days, has engaged in frequent self-harm, including swallowing razors, ripping open surgical incisions and plunging sharp objects into his open wounds.
• The Center for American Progress and the Movement Advancement Project published a report on the experiences of LGBT people of color in the criminal justice system, including the use of solitary. “Segregating or isolating incarcerated people limits their ability to access programs and services available to the general prison population… Additionally, when individuals are placed in protective custody or isolated, they are at increased risk for harassment and abuse by correctional officers because of reduced visibility and oversight.”
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