Seven Days in Solitary [10/16/2016]
Our Weekly Roundup of News and Views on Solitary Confinement
• Rikers Island has officially ended its placement of 19-to-21 year olds in solitary confinement, who will now instead be placed in the jail’s Secure Unit or Enhanced Supervision Unit. Advocates expressed concern that young people will still spend extended time in some form of isolation. “Our goal has never been to eliminate the term ‘punitive segregation,’ but to eliminate the unconscionable conditions that it has been used to describe,” the executive director of Brooklyn Defender Services told the Village Voice.
• Whisteblower Chelsea Manning was released from solitary confinement. She had been sentenced to seven days in isolation as punishment for attempting suicide.
• A Utah mother is worried about her son, who had never been the same after experiencing a traumatic brain injury and was sent to prison after getting into a fight. According to a local station, Cameron Payne “has been in solitary confinement for five years” – largely due behavioral issues related to his injury, said his family – “and hasn’t been able to see or call his mother in over a year.”
• A 41-year-old North Carolina man has been released from solitary confinement for the first time in more than 13 years. Jason Swain, who has diagnosed mental health issues, was also able to visit with his mother for the first time in 17 years.
• Illinois’ Governor Rauner announced that he was closing Stateville Correctional Center’s F House, the last remaining “roundhouse” prison in the United States. Rauner, who said he was pursuing the closure “in the name of justice,” said he was also working towards opening a Life Skills and Re-Entry Facility for people nearing their release dates. In September, an individual locked up in isolation at the F House wrote about his experiences for Solitary Watch.
• New Mexico Corrections Secretary Gregg Marcantel has announced plans to retire, following an overwhelmingly no-confidence vote in him by the guards’ union. Marcantel had become an outspoken critic of solitary confinement during his tenure, a position that fractured his relationship with the state’s correctional officers.
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