Georgia Prison in “Flagrant” Violation of Solitary Reforms…and Other News on Solitary Confinement This Week

Seven Days in Solitary for the Week Ending 5/1/24

by | May 2, 2024

New this week from Solitary Watch:

For World Press Freedom Day Friday, May 3, at 12 pm PT / 3 pm ET, Solitary Watch Editor-in-Chief Juan Moreno Haines joins a panel of distinguished incarcerated writers to discuss the limits of First Amendment rights. Although the Federal Bureau of Prisons bars incarcerated people from being journalists and many states prohibit incarcerated writers from being compensated for their work, Haines and others continue to work to expose the reality of life in prison. The Zoom event, called “Behind Enemy Lines: Incarcerated Journalists Fight for Press Freedom,” is free, but registration is required. Freelance Solidarity 

• • •

Haines also recently appeared on an episode of the podcast One Minute Remaining. In the episode, Juan discusses his life before and during prison and the role writing and journalism have played in his life since he has been incarcerated.  Spotify 

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

A federal judge recently ruled Georgia prison officials to be in “flagrant” violation of a court order “aimed at improving conditions and procedural safeguards” in the Special Management Unit (SMU) of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison. In his statement, U.S. District Judge Marc Treadwell held Georgia Department of Corrections officials in contempt, accusing them of falsifying documents and placing new arrivals at the facility in solitary “strip cells.” One incarcerated man stated that upon arrival he was placed alone in a cell naked, with no mattress, and an unusable toilet filled with human waste. As a result, Judge Treadwell threatened the department with fines and ordering an independent monitor to oversee the facility and ensure compliance. Associated Press | The SMU at the prison became notorious after psychologist Craig Haney visited in 2018 and found windowless cells where men were “hermetically sealed,” and where individuals with undiagnosed mental illness were “cutting themselves, smearing their cells with blood, eating their feces, swallowing batteries and razors in an attempting to kill themselves.” He described unit as “bedlam-like,” filled with the “cacophony of prisoner screams and cries for help.” NBC News

• • •

A recent report from the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights claims that Illinois’ use of solitary confinement violates international human rights law. According to the report, approximately 65,000 people spent at least 10 days in solitary confinement, and over 11,000 spent more than six months, between January 2011 and May 2023. Of the people who spent time in solitary, 73.5 percent were Black. The Isolated Confinement Restriction Act has been proposed in response to the state’s use of solitary and would prevent people from being placed in isolation for more than 10 days out of 180 days. Chicago Sun-Times

• • •

During a day of action, dozens of opponents of solitary confinement gathered outside the Wisconsin State Capitol before heading inside to speak to legislators. Among the protestors was Kerrie Hirte—a mother from Green Bay whose daughter died by suicide while in isolation at the Milwaukee County Jail. Hirte, who has visited with lawmakers before, spent the day listening to the stories of others who have survived solitary and family members of people who have not. She told reporters, “​​When it comes to putting mental illness in a cell block and locking them away, it makes it 100 times worse than a normal person.” She said she hopes lawmakers will end the practice to prevent more deaths. Wisconsin Examiner

• • •

Tennessee lawmakers failed to pass a bill that would have increased oversight at juvenile detention centers. The bill was a response to public outcry following a WPLN and ProPublica investigation last year that revealed many facilities placed children in isolation for minor rule infractions like laughing at meals or talking during class. Lawmakers and advocates are baffled by the choice to send the bill for “summer study,” as it has bipartisan sponsorship and department support, and would have cost no money to implement. However, some suggest that donations from a super PAC operated by Jason Crews, who also owns and runs several private juvenile facilities in Tennessee, may have had undue influence. ProPublica

• • •

The Department of Justice has agreed to pay $700,000 to the estate of 22-year-old Davon Gillians, who died while incarcerated at FCI Coleman. A wrongful death lawsuit claims that Gillians was removed from his assigned cell then beaten and choked unconscious before being strapped to a restraint chair in solitary confinement. According to the suit, officers refused to provide Gillians with food, water, or medical attention in the days following the incident leading to his death. WCBD-TV Charleston

• • •

Immigrant civil rights groups are calling for an investigation into allegations that officers at Calhoun County Jail repeatedly beat a 29-year-old woman with disabilities. The woman, who is a torture survivor with physical disabilities and mental impairment, alleges that officers at the facility threw her against a wall, dragged her down a hallway, withheld access to her wheelchair, and placed her in solitary confinement. Advocates argue that this incident points to “a pattern of concerns at CCCF,” which also includes the death of another immigrant detainee in 2021.  Detroit Metro Times

• • •

A new documentary, The Strike, chronicles the efforts by incarcerated people and advocates to end California’s indefinite solitary confinement policy. The film centers on the lives of several incarcerated people at Pelican Bay Prison, their experiences with indefinite solitary confinement, and the hunger strike that eventually reformed the practice. Filmmakers JoeBill Munoz and Lucas Guilkey also explore the important combined effort between incarcerated people, outside activists, investigative journalists, and select politicians. Variety I Formerly incarcerated activists Jack Morris and Dolores Canales joined the director to “talk about the historic hunger strike and the evolution of solitary confinement policies in the state.” KQED

• • •

Get this weekly roundup in your email every Wednesday, covering the past seven days of solitary confinement news and commentary. Subscribe today.

The work we do is made possible by your support. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation—large or small—today.


Solitary Watch encourages comments and welcomes a range of ideas, opinions, debates, and respectful disagreement. We do not allow name-calling, bullying, cursing, or personal attacks of any kind. Any embedded links should be to information relevant to the conversation. Comments that violate these guidelines will be removed, and repeat offenders will be blocked. Thank you for your cooperation.

Leave a Reply

Discover more from Solitary Watch

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading