Kids in Albuquerque Jail “Locked Down in Our Cells All Day Like a Animal in a Zoo”…and Other News on Solitary Confinement This Week

Seven Days in Solitary for the Week Ending 1/3/23

by | January 3, 2024

New this week from Solitary Watch:

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This week’s pick of news and commentary about solitary confinement:

Earlier this year, an investigation by Searchlight New Mexico into the conditions at Bernalillo County Youth Services Center (BCYSC) in New Mexico revealed the facility regularly holds youth in conditions equivalent to prolonged solitary confinement and subjects children as young as 12 to strip searches. In response, three young people incarcerated at BCYSC have published first hand accounts of their experiences living at the facility. Many of the cells do not have toilets and the children are forced to wait hours to use the restroom. One of the boys reported frequent restraints and violence, and also wrote that “you halft to hold your pee for that long it hurts…so [kids] pee in cups or milk cartons and if the staff finds out, they get in trouble.” Another boy reported being hungry all the time because of inadequate food portions, and being forced to sleep on sheets that smell of urine and mildew with only “watered down vinegar” to clean their cells. “We are locked down in our cells all day like a animal in a zoo. It really messes with a child’s mind. Being isolated and confined in a 10-by-10 cell every day with nothing to do can make kids antisocial and depressed and not want to be around anybody because they are so used to being alone in that cell,” wrote the second boy. Searchlight New Mexico

Six men incarcerated at Red Onion State Prison in Virginia have gone on hunger strike to “protest the continued use of long-term solitary confinement within the institution.” The strike began the day after Christmas and is being led by incarcerated activist, writer, and artist Kevin “Rashid” Johnson. Several of the men, including Johnson, have health conditions which make participating in the strike particularly risky. Rashid Mod

A new Nevada law limiting the use of solitary confinement went into effect on January 1, 2024. Under the law, incarcerated people cannot be held in solitary confinement longer than 15 days or placed in solitary within 90 days of their release date. However, Nick Shepack, a steering committee member of Social Workers Against Solitary Confinement and board chair of Return Strong, states there are some major loopholes in the legislation. Exceptions to the 15 day limit exist for incarcerated people awaiting disciplinary hearings for infractions punishable by solitary confinement, people placed in solitary for medical or safety reasons, and people who refuse to leave solitary. Las Vegas Sun

In a recent op-ed New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams counters arguments against recent legislation passed by the New York City Council banning solitary confinement in the city’s jails. Despite the narrative perpetuated by Mayor Eric Adams and his Administration, evidence links time spent in solitary to increased violence while incarcerated as well as increases in recidivism, Williams writes. The new bill provides alternative means of ensuring public safety and provides incarcerated people with programming and incentives aimed at reducing behaviors that result in solitary confinement. Amsterdam News

Jemika Johnson went into labor alone in an isolation cell at Rappahannock Regional Jail in Virginia. Five hours later staff found Johnson and her newborn laying in a pool of blood on her cell floor. After being transported to the hospital, the infant was pronounced dead as a result of what advocates say is a pattern of medical neglect by facility staff. Johnson’s recent lawsuit against Stafford County is the most recent in a series of legal cases over the lack of medical care at the facility. VPM 

Jennifer Kszepka was incarcerated for the first time at 16 years old. As she sat alone in her solitary confinement cell trying to comprehend her new reality, all she wanted was a glass of milk. In her most recent essay, Kszepka recounts her first night in solitary and the lasting emotional memory it created. Prison Journalism Project

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1 comment

  • Jason

    I hate to say it. But kids are just as bad or worse. Than adults are. We need to make sure they are paying for the crime or crimes they committed. Not saying they should receive harsh punishment or abuse. But we can not just give them what they want. Cause they will never learn from there mistakes. They should be locked up to understand and hopefully learn from it. But if we give in they will never understand life itself.

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