New this week from Solitary Watch:
• Type Investigations and The American Prospect published an investigation by Solitary Watch contributing writers Katie Rose Quandt and Juan Moreno Haines. Quandt and Haines investigated San Quentin State Prison’s continued use of its infamous Adjustment Center, a death row unit designed for solitary confinement, to house people who have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19. Haines used his unique access as an incarcerated journalist to interview more than a dozen people who spent time in the unit.
• In the latest installment of the Voices From Solitary series, Solitary Watch published an essay written by Mathew Davis where he describes how the response to COVID cases in the prison where he is has led to near-total lockdowns. These lockdowns have been to the detriment of people’s mental health, opportunities for rehabilitative programming, and contact with loved ones.
Our pick of other news about solitary confinement:
• The Daily News reports that New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams supports a bill that would ban solitary confinement in city jails. Adams described the use of solitary confinement as “counterproductive and harmful” and said it “causes immense damage to the health of those subjected to it.” A veto-proof majority of lawmakers support the bill. A hearing is scheduled for next week and the Speaker expressed confidence that the council will pass the legislation.
• The Daily Hampshire Gazette reports that Thomas Wojcik, currently incarcerated at Hampshire County Jail in Connecticut, is suing Sheriff Patrick Cahillane and other officials. Wojcik was placed in isolation for over two months. He alleges that he was entitled to a 24-hour break every 10 days but never had that break. He says he also did not receive proper mental health care, clothing, or bedding materials, and was told by jail staff that he was responsible for proving himself innocent.
• Blackamericaweb.com looks at the case of an Alabama teen charged with the distribution of child pornography after texting photos of herself. Her attorney in a viral Twitter thread, discussed the issues in the case, including that the 16-year-old was put into solitary confinement for a month.
• KQED reports that nine men at the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center and the Golden State Annex in California were placed in solitary confinement after a months-long labor strike. The strikers were demanding a pay increase from a dollar a day to the state’s minimum wage. Men at another privately-run facility in Calexico have alleged the use of solitary confinement on them as a form of retaliation after they voiced concerns about conditions and treatment by the staff. State lawmakers are calling on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to investigate.
• That Bird Has My Wings by Jarvis Jay Masters has been selected as Oprah Winfrey’s New Book Club Pick of 2022. Masters, who has been incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison for the past 41 years, says he wrote his book “while in solitary confinement, isolated and alone.” Masters says that his “greatest hope at the time was that a few young people would read my story and learn from my mistakes.” Masters’s memoir now has a national audience and he says that it remains his hope that “lives will be better for it.”