Seven Days in Solitary [2/5/2017]

Our Weekly Roundup of News and Views on Solitary Confinement

by | February 5, 2017

•  The Allegheny County Jail has eased up on discipline and worked towards releasing incarcerated pregnant women, according to an article published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Five people locked up at Allegheny sued the jail last December, on allegations that they had been place in solitary, sometimes for weeks, for minor offenses like having too many pairs of shoes.

•  Forbes published an opinion piece from the non-profit Prison Lives about who lives in solitary confinement. “From an outside perspective, solitary confinement is necessary to control the prison scene. But if you look a little closer, you find an environment that unnecessarily produces ill-effects, including the violence we imagine.”

•  Men took over Delaware’s largest prison, the Vaughn Correctional Center, and by dawn the next morning the police had stormed the facility. Writing in Jacobin, Attica uprising scholar Heather Ann Thompson penned that “at Vaughn prison and elsewhere, we should demand transparency and stand with the inmates who dare to affirm their humanity.”

•  A Maine Superior Court judge has ruled that a man’s due processes rights were violated when he was unduly placed in solitary confinement at Maine State Prison for nearly two years. The judge also ruled that the Department of Corrections should refund monetary sanctions imposed against the prisoner, Doug Burr, and restore any good lost time.

•  Inside Delaware prisoners, people perceived to be unruly – including some who may be in solitary confinement – are still fed “the loaf” instead of actual meals. “It’s not something you swallow easily,” said Kevin Dickens, who was once placed on the diet for five straight weeks. “After you take two or three bites, you want to gargle and barf.” Other states, like New York, have moved away from the practice.

•  “Photos of maximum-security prisons in Norway and the US reveal the extremes of prison life,” read a headline published in Business Insider. The outlet compared and contrasted living conditions inside the federal supermax facility in Florence, Colorado and Halden Prison in Halden, Norway.

•  Former Black Panther Jalil Muntaqim was transferred to Southport Correctional Facility, a supermax prison south of Elmira, New York. Muntaqim, who was teaching a class on Black History, was sentenced to four months in solitary confinement for allegedly encouraging others “to engage in gang activities.” Muntaqim has disputed the prison’s account and said that he encouraged gangs to get organized and get away from criminal behavior.


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