Seven Days in Solitary [5/11/22]
Our Weekly Roundup of News and Views on Solitary Confinement
New this week from Solitary Watch:
• Chris Wilson published in the Voices from Solitary series, about his experience entering prison as a 17 year old, about the 117 days he spent locked up, and about the art he created after leaving solitary. He describes, “Going into it, I knew I wanted to create something beautiful despite the ugliness of solitary. I wanted to capture my hurt and pain but also the ways that I found the strength to persevere through that inhumanity.”
Our pick of other news about solitary confinement:
• KPVI News reports that Connecticut governor Lamont has signed into law Public Act 22-18, limiting the amount of time an individual can spend in solitary confinement to 15 consecutive days, or 30 total days within any 60-day period. The law takes effect on July 1, 2022. A press release from the governor’s office states, “This law makes it clear that isolated confinement should only be used in extreme circumstances.”
• The Daily Beast reports that as Trump-era immigration barriers end, the Biden Administration has begun pouring funding into Port Isabel Detention Center in Texas, despite the facility’s history of abuse and prolonged solitary confinement. Texas Catholic bishops in 1989 called the facility, “the largest concentration camp on U.S. soil since the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II,” and recently, the facility has been the target of lawsuits alleging that mentally ill people are subjected to solitary confinement and medically neglected.
• In Depth NH reports that a proposed settlement for victims of abuse in the Sununu Youth Detention Center has been criticized by the prosecution team. Amanda Grady Sexton, Director of Public Affairs for the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence insists that, “the state can demonstrate what it means to hold institutions accountable and show unwavering support for child victims. The bill in its current form fails to do that.”
• The Daily Eagle reports about two bills introduced in New York’s City Council to prevent suicides in the city’s jails, one by mandating thorough reporting of policies, and the other by creating a more comprehensive and accountable medical plan for city facilities. Akeem Browder, whose brother Kalief died by suicide in solitary confinement, said, “My youngest brother did not go into the system with mental illness but he came out with mental illnesses. I can’t keep on asking.”
• Guest Columnist Kealee Spencer wrote an opinion piece for the Oklahoman about the inhumanity of solitary confinement. She quotes a 2005 study from the American Journal of Public Health, which demonstrates that if people “did not have mental health problems before, they are more than likely to have developed one while in solitary confinement.”
• Syracuse.com reports that he family of Lonnie Lamont Hamilton, a man who died by suicide in 2016 in Central New York (CNY) prison’s special housing unit, was just awarded $1.1 million due to medical neglect. The Special Housing Unit in CNY is a 45-day solitary confinement. After Hamilton died, his family found out two months later, which violated the right of sepulcher: “the right to choose and control the burial of a deceased person.”
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