New this week from Solitary Watch:
• In the latest installment of The Word, a monthly dispatch from Solitary Watch, Juan Moreno Haines writes about the ongoing use of solitary confinement in San Quentin prison as a failed COVID-19 preventative measure. Haines describes how all programming has been severely curtailed since the epidemic began, and how those who step forward with medical concerns are put into further isolation. He says, “Collectively, cutting off these important community-based interactions imposes an ongoing duress on the mental health of incarcerated folks.”
Our pick of other news about solitary confinement:
• Courthouse News reports that a federal judge has found that the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Reentry (ADCRR) violated the Eighth Amendment rights of individuals, flouting a settlement that mandated better healthcare for people incarcerated. ADCRR was found to be medically and nutritionally neglecting individuals in solitary confinement as well, according to Reason.
• The Star-Ledger editorial board calls on the New Jersey state legislature to hold hearings on the use of seclusion in schools on children with disabilities. The state passed a law allowing ‘quiet rooms’ as a last resort in schools, without establishing any standard rules for use. The Policy Director at the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network, Peg Kinsell, said of the fear this provokes in other children: “The trauma of watching them do this to other kids impacts every one of them.”
• Knock LA published an opinion article by Jose Armendariz, an account of his experience in Orange County jail, describing the medical neglect that happens when someone is suicidal. He says, “They write ‘suicidal’ across the cell window and leave the person there for up to 48 hours, until a doctor or psychologist gives the order for them to go where they house people who are suicidal.” Anyone who complains or gives the slightest indication of disrespect in Orange County jail can be placed in solitary and/or lose privileges.
• The City reports that New York’s Department of Correction has once again delayed the implementation of the Risk Management Accountability System (RMAS), which was meant to go into effect July 1. A spokesperson from the Legal Aid Society of New York voiced the costs of maintaining the status quo, saying, “We are gravely concerned that the city’s delays will cause our clients to linger in a reflexively punitive and isolating system that cannot meet their fundamental human needs.”
• Bolts Magazine reports about the practice of not paying incarcerated workers for their labor, which is still the practice in seven US states. David Johnson, an activist and organizer who was formerly incarcerated in Texas, worked in fields for no compensation. He describes, “It was always clear that there was a parallel between working in those fields and slavery. We had open conversations out there about how those conditions, how those armed men on horses guarding us evoked that history.”
• CBS News writes about an event that took place on June 26th, the United Nations’ International Day Against Torture, where activists called for North Carolina governor Roy Cooper to end the use of solitary confinement. Speakers addressed the Islamophobia that Muslim people incarcerated in North Carolina have experienced, as well as the rampant racism behind bars.