Report Documents Flagrant Violations of New York Solitary Reform Law…and Other News on Solitary Confinement This Week

Seven Days in Solitary for the Week Ending 3/29/23

by | March 29, 2023

The Correctional Association of New York released a 41-page report documenting “numerous departures” from the letter and spirit of the HALT Solitary Confinement Law. While the overall number of people in solitary confinement in New York has decreased by more than two-thirds following the implementation of HALT, the report finds that facilities have continued to hold people in solitary well beyond the legal limit of 15 consecutive days. The report examines the alleged relationship between HALT and prison violence, citing interviews with incarcerated people who said they received false tickets for assaults after being “set up” by staff.  CANY | Context: The New York prison agency’s efforts to circumvent HALT have also been covered in an ongoing reporting series by Chris Gelardi.  New York Focus

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A coalition of advocacy groups issued an open letter urging the US Department of Education to investigate children’s rights abuses at Louisiana’s Angola prison. Children held at the Bridge City Center for Youth were transferred to the prison’s former death row building in July 2022, and have since faced harrowing conditions, including prolonged solitary confinement. The letter calls attention to the lack of educational programming the children have received at Angola, expressing concerns that they “will lose the opportunity to learn core skills necessary for their employment and success as adults.”  Southern Poverty Law Center

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The Department of Justice’s inspector general published a “capstone review” evaluating the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ response to COVID-19. The report identified “serious failures” in facilities’ adherence to the provision that single-celling should be limited, noting that seven people died by suicide while quarantined in isolation units between March 2020 and April 2021. Of these seven individuals, five were not screened to determine whether their placement in solitary was suitable. “Further, postmortem documentation indicated that all seven inmates had factors that made them vulnerable to suicide,” the report states. Government Executive

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Advocates testified before the Maryland Senate in a hearing for the Transgender Respect, Agency, and Dignity Act, which would allow incarcerated trans people to be housed and searched in accordance with their gender identity. The speakers, many of whom were formerly incarcerated, described how current policies are forcing trans people into solitary. “I was in a cage inside of a cage and labeled as a threat to security because I looked like a woman,” said Iya Dammons, a trans woman. “I’m afraid when I wake up in the morning, because this trauma still haunts me today.”  The Baltimore Banner

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Anthony Gay, who previously spent 23 years in solitary confinement, is seeking a new trial after being incarcerated in May 2022 as a result of what he alleges are “trumped-up” gun charges. Gay has spearheaded legislation limiting solitary in Illinois, which has already passed the House and is currently before the state Senate, and hopes to see legislators introduce a bill limiting solitary at the federal level.  Chicago Crusader

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Two men formerly incarcerated at San Quentin, Thanh Tran and James King, share their thoughts on Governor Newson’s plans to transform the California prison into a rehabilitation-centered facility modeled off Norwegian prisons. Tran and King expressed appreciation for Newsom’s intent, but emphasized the difficulty of changing the culture of an institution known for its staff misconduct and extensive use of solitary.  The Guardian | Context: Solitary Watch’s Katie Rose Quandt and Juan Moreno Haines wrote about San Quentin’s continued practice of isolating COVID-positive individuals in death row housing in September 2022.  Type Investigations

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Melania Brown, the sister of Layleen Polanco, who died of a seizure in solitary confinement in 2019, draws upon the experiences of her sister and others who have lost their lives at Rikers to contend that New York lawmakers must stop undercutting bail reform. While Governor Hochul has been pushing for a rollback of protections against pre-trial jailing, Brown writes that this would be a “devastating error.” “Let’s be clear,” Brown writes, “Expanding pretrial jailing makes our society less just and less safe.”  New York Daily News

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Kwaneta Harris, an incarcerated writer and former nurse, writes about how prison book bans restrict access to information about healthcare. Harris also describes how books can help reduce the isolation of prison, particularly for members of marginalized communities. She has witnessed seven suicides in the past seven years, all LGBTQ+ people under 25. “Would a book about other queer people give them a sense of community, in a place of isolation?” Harris writes. “They’re denied: ‘sexual deviancy.’”  PEN America

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From his solitary confinement cell at the Arizona State Prison Complex – Eyman, Timothy Monk surveyed incarcerated peers in his unit about the gifts they wish they could give to others. He received responses ranging from eclectic to contemplative, most of which were in written form, as the majority of his respondents were also housed in solitary. One man’s answer: “To never have a desire to want for anything more than what they need, and to gift the excess to those without.”  Prison Journalism Project


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  • VBM (actual name withheld to protect inmate)

    My son has been in solitary for 6 months. He is a level 2. He had been physically abused, mentally & physically tortured, & sexually harassed & violated in New York State. Not sure what the 7 days is about. If you want real information, I can provide real, documented offenses & give you real DINs & names of others with similar stories.

  • Elaine Peters

    End this solitary confinement abuse now.

  • Etta Moore

    My son is currently in solitary confinement for 90 days in New York State and the place is unsanitary. My son can only call every 3 days and I believe there’s only 3 tablets for the entire facility. He’s not supposed to be in a cell with another inmate and they shower whenever the guards turn the water on. When the u do it’s 7 mins per man very inhumane.

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