Seven Days in Solitary [09/17/2017]
Our Weekly Roundup of News and Views on Solitary Confinement
• The watchdog group Disability Rights New York released a report about conditions inside the mental health treatment unit at Attica Correctional Facility, known as the Residential Mental Health Unit (RMHU). According to Shadowproof, “While in theory the RMHU is supposed to be a therapeutic alternative to punitive solitary confinement, in reality there are many similarities between the two.”
• Solitary Watch’s Victoria Law wrote about the Photo Requests from Solitary exhibit that was on display at Photoville in Brooklyn. The group asks people “held in isolation what they would like to see. Volunteer artists then take on these requests, sometimes creating original images, sometimes digging through their existing works to find one that fits.”
• As Massachusetts lawmakers consider a bill to restrict the use of solitary confinement, a man formerly locked up in the state, along with a former state Corrections Department associate commissioner, appeared together on WBUR. “The problem is you’re keeping people in segregation too long, and you’re putting people in segregation that don’t belong there,” said Bobby Dellelo, who “spent more than half his life” behind bars.
• A federal judge granted class action status for an ongoing lawsuit against Wisconsin’s youth prison, meaning that all current and future children incarcerated there will be permitted to join the suit. “The decision gives attorneys access to information about more inmates’ experiences there and allows the inmates to be subject to any settlement or verdict that results from the lawsuit,” reported a local outlet. The youth prison has been criticized for what’s been seen as its excessive reliance on solitary confinement.
• “The Vermont Human Rights Commission says the state discriminated against a woman in psychiatric crisis when she was placed in the solitary confinement at a correctional facility instead of a psychiatric hospital,” reported the outlet VT Digger. The woman, referred to only as WM, was ordered by a court to be placed at a psychiatric hospital; instead she was sent to a solitary confinement unit at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility.
• Officials at New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center have estimated it will take $150,000 to remodel the legal visiting room on 10 South, the unit where Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and other high-security prisoners are placed; currently, neither Guzman nor the others on the unit – who are held in extreme isolation – are able to meet their lawyers face-to-face in order to prepare for trial. Meanwhile, across town, “Pharmo bro” Martin Shkreli was arrested and placed in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where he may be placed in protective isolation due to his unpopularity on the inside.
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