Nebraska Holds Children in Prolonged Solitary in Defiance of State Law…And Other News on Solitary Confinement This Week

Seven Days in Solitary for the Week Ending 1/31/24

by | January 31, 2024

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

Nebraska children are spending increasing amounts of time in solitary confinement. According to a recent report from the state’s Inspector General on Child Welfare, in the last year the number of children in solitary in the state’s youth facilities has increased by 44%. The report suggests state-run detention centers and treatment facilities are not adhering to state laws limiting the use of solitary confinement for children. One 16-year-old told his family that he has been in and out of solitary confinement throughout the duration of his incarceration, at one point spending a week confined alone in his room. In another case, a 14-year-old in Lancaster County spent 129 out of 133 days in solitary. While facility officials state that prolonged confinement is only used in rare cases, data indicates otherwise. Flatwater Free Press

Emancipate NC, a criminal justice legal advocacy nonprofit, is suing the state of North Carolina for restricting public access to the Durham Jail’s policies. After submitting a public records request in April 2023, Emancipate NC waited for six months for jail officials to provide copies of the policies. The materials provided to Emancipate NC were heavily redacted, which the Sheriff claims is due to the sensitive security nature of those specific policies. Among the redacted policies are some dealing with solitary confinement, or “segregation.” The sheriff’s office denies it uses solitary, but interviews conducted by students at the Civil Legal Assistance Clinic at UNC-Chapel Hill Law School show regular use of “the hole.” In the lawsuit, Emancipate NC asks the department to disclose most of their policies and to provide specific justifications for any redactions. INDY Week

Transgender people incarcerated in Florida say that their access to gender-affirming care has been inhibited by the passing of the law SB 254. Championed by Governor Ron DeSantis, the legislation mainly prohibits gender-affirming care for most young people, but also bans the use of state funds for “sex reassignment prescriptions or procedures.” This means that transgender adults are losing access to prescriptions for hormone replacement therapy and other care while incarcerated unless they are able to pay out of pocket. For a group already more predisposed to being victims of violence, abuse, and solitary confinement, this new legislation jeopardizes the mental health and safety transgender people incarcerated in Florida. Tampa Bay Times/The Marshall Project

Despite public outcry from family members and advocates, lockdowns continue at two correctional facilities in Wisconsin. Since June 2023, Waupun and Green Bay correctional facilities have been on lockdown due to concerns by officials regarding overcrowding and the conditions in the facilities. Meanwhile, thousands of incarcerated people are being kept in solitary confinement without access to programming, recreation, or even regular showers. In a recent interview, the coordinator of the Wisconsin Transformational Justice Campaign at the grassroots network WISDOM discusses the current state of the lockdown and possible paths forward. The Real News Network 

On August 10, 2021, Brandon Rodriguez died in solitary confinement on Rikers Island. In an op-ed, his mother Tamara Carter criticizes Mayor ERic Adams’s recent claims that solitary confinement has not existed in New York City’s jails since 2019. Throughout the piece she details the conditions that led to her son’s death and the lack of care or response from facility staff and officials. NY Daily News Yesterday the New York City Council voted overwhelmingly to override Adam’s veto of a bill banning most uses of solitary confinement in the city’s jails. The new law place the most stringent limitations on solitary of any legislation in the nation. The next challenge for supporters of the law will be making sure it is implemented. The City

The American Bar Association (ABA) recently released an overview of the International Guiding Statement on Alternatives to Solitary Confinement. In the overview, the ABA reviews the core section of the statement providing guidance for its use by advocates and attorneys. The statement reviews several subject areas surrounding alternatives to solitary confinement, including accountability and oversight, strategies for reducing the use of solitary, methods of individualizing responsive care plans, and partnerships with prison staff. American Bar Association 

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