Deaf People Face “Pervasive Mistreatment” in Las Vegas Jail…and Other News on Solitary Confinement This Week

Seven Days in Solitary for the Week Ending 1/17/24

by | January 17, 2024

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

A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of a deaf person incarcerated in the Clark County Detention Center alleges “pervasive mistreatment” among other civil rights violations. The ACLU is representing Christopher Jones, who “was accused of refusing to obey a direct order because he spoke to a psychiatric staffer instead of returning to his bunk when ordered to do so by staff members who were unaware that Jones was deaf. He was transferred to solitary confinement that same day. The jail investigator recommended Jones receive a maximum sentence for the violation even though the investigator noted that staff members were unaware Jones was deaf when they ordered him back to his bunk, and Jones calmed down once someone communicated with him in basic ASL to explain what was happening.” In the lawsuit, the ACLU of Nevada argues that such treatment is systemic, and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department fails to meet minimum standards of communication for deaf and hard of hearing incarcerated people by denying them access to qualified interpreters and auxiliary aids, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, Americans with Disabilities Act, and Nevada Constitution. The Nevada Independent

Despite numerous allegations of widespread sexual misconduct perpetrated by staff, a federal judge is “highly doubtful” she will order an independent monitor to oversee the federal women’s prison FCI Dublin. Over the last several years, approximately 45 women have filed complaints against staff for sexual assault and misconduct, including the use of solitary confinement as retaliation to grievances. In 2023, eight women filed a class action lawsuit alleging that the Federal Bureau of Prisons has been aware of the rampant assault and abuse at FCI Dublin—which was characterized by the plaintiffs as a “rape club.” Although the judge has issued several orders to improve conditions at the facility and for officials to reflect on the women’s testimony, and singled out the use of solitary confinement as especially egregious, she remains unconvinced that their legal arguments are strong enough to necessitate further federal oversight. KQED

Over the last year, more than a dozen incarcerated people have died at correctional facilities in Hawaii. According to officials, the Hawaii Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is missing approximately one-third of its staff which has led to an overreliance on solitary confinement. A majority of the recent deaths have occurred in solitary and involved older individuals with terminal illnesses and individuals with mental health issues who are not adequately monitored. Island News

In a recent statement, the U.S. Department of Justice ordered the state of Georgia to pay for transgender people’s gender-affirming care while incarcerated. The statement comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed by one incarcerated transgender woman who alleges that current state law violates the Eighth Amendment, Americans with Disabilities Act, and the federal Rehabilitation Act. Although the woman, identified as Jane Doe, was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2015 by state health workers she was denied gender-affirming care and instead placed in solitary confinement. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution

Before the city of San Francisco released plans for a new jail in 2006, incarcerated people in San Bruno county had access to an outdoor recreation space the size of a football field. Now, all recreation takes place in an indoor gym or, for people in solitary confinement, in cages and some incarcerated people see less than a minute of sunlight each day. In 2023, a federal magistrate ruled that in denying incarcerated people access to outdoor recreation, the city of San Francisco acted with “reckless indifference” to the health of incarcerated people. In this piece, formerly incarcerated writer and Empowerment Avenue Director Rahsaan Thomas calls attention to the false notion that prison officials should be allowed to run their facilities however they see fit in order to protect public safety, even if it mean treating incarcerated people as less than human. Outside 

In a recent Yotube video, Texas Letters Project provides Roger Uvalle with a platform to tell his story of more than 30 years spent in solitary confinement. Although brief, the incredibly impactful video details the horrors faced by Uvalle while incarcerated in Texas’ Hughes Unit. Throughout the video, Uvalle discusses the horrific living conditions and tactics used by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to bury countless people in long term solitary confinement. Texas Letters Youtube

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