Seven Days in Solitary [7/20/22]
Our Weekly Roundup of News and Views on Solitary Confinement
• The Intercept reported on a complaint letter from four women in Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, who allege that a jail nurse sexually assaulted them and threatened them with retaliation for speaking out. The immigration detention center, which is run by CoreCivic, has a history of complaints and lawsuits for abuse, medical neglect, and punishing people with long-term solitary confinement. It is known as the “black hole” of immigration detention.
• City & State New York reports on the death of Elijah Muhammad on Riker’s Island. Muhammad, who had been held in solitary confinement for 30 hours before his death from a suspected drug overdose, is the tenth person to die on Riker’s this year. He had been placed in a “de-escalation unit” for five times longer than jail policy allows.
• City Limits published an opinion article in support of proposed legislation that would outright ban the use of solitary confinement for more than a few hours in New York City. This legislation would “go notably further” than the Risk Management Accountability System that is being introduced now. The legislation, as explained by Gothamist, would also require medical checks every hour, and limit other restrictive forms of housing to 15 days.
• Mother Jones reports on how the overturning of Roe v. Wade means that “incarcerated women will no longer have legal recourse” to terminate their pregnancies. Pregnant women are still shackled in many states, and prenatal care behind bars is massively inadequate. Mother Jones spoke with one woman who miscarried after the shackles caused her to fall. She said, “Then after everything I endured, they put me in solitary confinement.”
• WBUR writes about a report from Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts that details a pattern of sexual violence experienced by incarcerated people in Massachusetts facilities. Sexual violence is underreported in correctional facilities, due to fears of retaliation and the time it takes to investigate. Leslie Credle, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Justice 4 Housing, says, “The women get put in ‘the hole’ until they’re done investigating. And that could take a year or two. I witnessed at least four of five instances of it.”
• Bolts Mag reported on a new memoir called Corrections in Ink by Keri Blakinger, a Marshall Project staff writer who spent a year in prison in New York state. In the book, she describes the terrifying experience of solitary confinement: “As soon as the door clunked shut behind me, the weight of seclusion hit me like a wall of dark seawater, knocking me off my feet and leaving me gasping for breath.”
• Washington City Paper reports on newly introduced legislation that would almost entirely ban solitary confinement in Washington DC. On top of the DC Jail’s baseline high use of solitary, the entire jail has been on frequent, extreme lockdowns throughout the pandemic. The legislation, introduced by Mary Cheh, would fully restrict solitary, including disciplinary solitary and protective custody.
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