Seven Days In Solitary [5/25/22]

Our Weekly Roundup of News and Views on Solitary Confinement

by | May 25, 2022

 The Vera Institute of Justice published an article writing about the “Crisis of Isolation” in lockup as a response to the pandemic. They describe the emotional toll on families when prisons denied visits between incarcerated people and their loved ones, and Clinique Chapman, associate director for Vera and MILPA’s Restoring Promise initiative, states, “The impact of being physically and emotionally caged while the world navigates a global pandemic will have unforeseen collateral consequences for years to come”

 The Tampa Bay Times reports on a settlement that the Florida Department of Corrections has agreed to, from a long running federal lawsuit challenging the “permanent solitary confinement” that individuals on death row have suffered for the last four decades. The settlement mandates: “death-sentenced prisoners to spend more time outside their cells, with some able to hold prison jobs within the death row housing unit,” as well as more mental healthcare.

 PRISM reports that at least four people held at Northwest Detention Center, a privately-owned immigration detention facility in Tacoma, WA, have been placed in solitary confinement for participating in a hunger strike protesting inadequate COVID-19 precautions. According to the Seattle Times, the protestors have asked for, “better cleaning of the facility and units, more nutritious food, better access to medical services and jobs that pay a minimum wage”

 A California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice press release announces a lawsuit filed by the family of Choung Woong Ahn, a 74-year-old South Korean immigrant who died in Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center two years ago. Despite well-documented physical and mental health illnesses, Ahn was placed in solitary confinement. The lawsuit alleges that, “​​Mr. Ahn was tortured to death by GEO Group and this lawsuit is a step towards accountability for that torture.”

 NPR reports on the House of D prison in Greenwich Village, interviewing Hugh Ryan, an author who has written a book about the prison’s role in anti-gay and transphobic policing in the 1960s. According to Ryan, the prison marked gay prisoners with a “D” for “degenerate,” and put queer prisoners into solitary confinement for being a “danger to other women.”

 New Orleans Public Radio interviews Beth Schwartzapfel from the Marshall Project about Louisiana’s placement of children in solitary confinement. They discuss the newly opened Acadiana center, a facility with very little public awareness, with teens held in solitary confinement for weeks at a time, and the recent introduction of legislation that would limit the solitary confinement of youth.

 NBC reports that a federal officer admitted to raping a woman being held in isolation in the Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles. He faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. According to court documents, the woman, “told Viera she did not want sexual contact, feared Viera would physically harm her, and later suffered a bodily injury as a result of the attack.”

 CNN reports about a case in the New York Court of Appeals about whether a 47-year-old Asian elephant named Happy is being wrongfully imprisoned in the Bronx Zoo. The civil rights organization Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) argues that although elephants are highly social animals, Happy is being held in the equivalent of solitary confinement. They are pushing for the elephant to be released to a wildlife sanctuary.

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