Seven Days in Solitary [3/9/22]

Our Weekly Roundup of News and Views on Solitary Confinement

by | March 9, 2022

 Reason published an article following the State of the Union about President Biden’s unfulfilled campaign promises, saying “neither the White House nor Biden had much to say about the sweeping criminal justice platform that he ran on.” The administration drafted an executive order last fall, as Solitary Watch and the Appeal recently reported, instructing that people in federal facilities be held in the least restrictive housing possible, but law enforcement agencies opposed the order and it never went through.

 People for the American Way profiled Supreme Court Justice nominee Ketanji Brown, promoting her “​​deep personal commitment to civil rights.” In one notable case as a judge, she ruled against a correctional facility for failing to provide an ASL interpreter to a man who was placed in “protective” solitary confinement. In this case, Ketanji commented, “an entity that provides services to the public cannot stand idly by while people with disabilities attempt to utilize programs and services designed for the able-bodied.”

 Demetrius Buckley, a man currently incarcerated in Michigan, published a piece for Filter Magazine about the broken internal review system that prevents people from transferring to lower-security facilities, and puts individuals in solitary confinement arbitrarily. Buckley describes the facility being on lockdown at least three times a week, saying, “We sit in our rooms without knowing why, feeling like captives in the truest sense of the word.”

 The Hartford Courant reported that the Connecticut legislature has agreed to again draft prison reform legislation, paving the way for another version of the PROTECT Act that Governor Ned Lamot vetoed last year. The Connecticut Mirror published an opinion piece insisting that, “For Connecticut to truly respect the dignity of incarcerated people, the legislature must pass the PROTECT Act and Governor Lamont must sign it into law.” 

 The family of Davon Gillians, a man who died in a solitary confinement cell in a federal prison in Florida last year, is suing the officials at the Coleman federal corrections complex, reports the Tampa Bay Times. The suit claims that “staff denied Gillians food, water and medical attention while he was bound in a restraint chair in solitary confinement for days, despite knowing that Gillians had sickle cell disease that requires daily medication.”

 Slate published an article delving into the challenge of adequate mental health care in prisons, mentioning an injunction in Illinois and investigation in Oregon that found that both states put people with mental illnesses into solitary. “If a patient discloses suicidal thoughts to a mental health care worker,” the article describes, “the worker may, even over the objections of their patient, inform the guards, subjecting their patient to the trauma of a strip search and placement in a solitary cell under surveillance.”

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