Seven Days in Solitary

Our Weekly Roundup of News and Views on Solitary Confinement

by | July 14, 2022

 California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement is hosting the California Symposium to End Solitary Confinement on Sunday, July 17, from 10 am to 2 pm PT / 1 pm – 5 pm ET. Speakers include Solitary Watch’s Jean Casella, as well as representatives of Unlock the Box, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Disability Right California, UC Berkeley Underground Scholars, and many others (including CFASC’s Dolores Canales and Jack Morris, who are getting married the day before and decided to follow up with this symposium!) Topics to be discussed include the CA Mandela Act, which would place strict limitations on the use of solitary in the state. The location of the symposium is Costa Mesa in Orange County, and all are welcome to attend in person or via Zoom. Registration is required for in-person attendance ONLY. (Please do not register if you plan to attend on Zoom.) Registration and more information at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2022-california-symposium-on-solitary-confinement-tickets-361375723517

 In a commentary article for the Orange County Register, Opinion Editor Sal Rodriguez calls for the abolition of solitary confinement in all prisons and jails in the United States. Rodriguez (a former writer for Solitary Watch) writes, “the practice is known to be harmful, it isn’t helpful for in-prison or public safety, and yet it’s being used on a wide scale across the country.” He urges California’s congressional representatives to support a recently-introduced federal bill to study the effects of solitary confinement. 

 The Prison Journalism Project published a first-hand account on indefinite solitary confinement—a phrase used by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017 to refer to placement in solitary confinement without any clear path back to the prison’s general population. The author, Michael “Scientific” Rivera, explains his day-to-day routine after his assignment to Pennsylvania’s restricted release list (RRL), which has entailed confinement in a small cell for 23 hours daily, with little to no human contact. “We are here, and we are suffering. We are despondently languishing.”

 KQED reports on Mohamed Mousa and Pedro Figueroa, two immigrant detainees who are being held in solitary confinement after supporting a labor strike seeking better wages and conditions at the privately run facility where they are held in Bakersfield, California. After signing a declaration on June 28 that they were joining a months-long peaceful work stoppage along with 15 other men, the two men were moved to restricted housing. 

 The Denver Gazette reports that incarcerated youth within the Texas Juvenile Justice Department are confined to their rooms for up to 22 hours daily. The department attributes the problem to staff. Some advocates are pushing to shutter the state agency in favor of putting youth in county care, where they say they will be better served. 

 CBS News looked at “23 Hours,” a project by the ACLU of Nevada documenting the experiences of incarcerated people in solitary confinement. “The goal of the project is to get Nevada’s leaders to pay attention and put a cap on the amount of time someone can spend in segregation,” according to the organization.

 In the Marshall Project’s Life Inside Series, Nicholas Brook describes his experience being placed on suicide watch at Rikers Island after he told a jail staffer that he was very depressed. “I was led to an empty cell, stripped naked and handed a smock,” he writes. “The isolation was torturous, and it made me think even more about suicide.” 

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