Local Jails Were Death Traps Even Before COVID-19. The Pandemic Demands Sweeping—and Permanent—Change.

The following piece originally appeared in the Opinion section of The Guardian on March 30.  •   •   •   •   • On Wednesday, March 18, while New York was emerging as the national epicenter for the novel coronavirus, a desperate message was dispatched from the city’s notorious Rikers Island. “A storm is coming,” tweeted Dr. Ross […]

Seven Days in Solitary [4/6/20]

• The Huffington Post reported that Juan Mosquero, a 58-year-old law library clerk held at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, became the first person to die of COVID-19 in a New York State prison. The man held in the cell above Mosqueros’ sent an email saying, “He was in isolation for a couple of weeks complaining […]

Fourteen Days in Solitary [3/30/20]

• Dozens of national articles have covered the dangerous effect COVID-19 has had—and threatens to have—on prisons, jails, and detention centers in the U.S., as well as the measures some jurisdictions are taking to deal with that danger. The Prison Policy Initiative has tracked some of the responses from state and local correctional facilities and compiled […]

Seven Days in Solitary [3/16/20]

• ABC reported on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that in response to COVID-19, people incarcerated in the state’s prisons will be producing 100,000 gallons of hand sanitizer per week to be provided to residents for free. Cuomo contracted the production under a deal with Corcraft, the brand for products produced in prisons, but advocates […]

Seven Days in Solitary [3/2/20]

• The Montgomery Advertiser reported that the families of four men who committed suicide in Alabama prisons in the past two years have filed a wrongful death lawsuit, claiming they faced cruel and unusual punishment. The Southern Poverty Law Center says that the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) violates their own policies, including routine security […]

Seven Days in Solitary [2/24/20]

• The Miami Herald reported that a lawsuit has been filed on behalf of 51-year-old Cheryl Weimar, claiming two male officers attacked the psychiatrically disabled woman held at Lowell Correctional Institution in Florida last August, leaving her paralyzed from the neck down. One of the alleged attackers, Ryan Dionne, remains on staff at the prison. […]

Seven Days in Solitary [2/17/20]

• KIRO 7 reported that the family of Damaris Rodriguez, a 43-year-old mother of five who died in the South Correctional Entity Jail in Des Moines, Washington, in 2017, has released a video documenting her death. When Rodriguez’s husband called 911 to request an ambulance for her mental health episode, police took Rodriguez to the jail, where she was put in solitary confinement […]

Seven Days in Solitary [2/3/20]

• The Boston Globe reported that prison administrators locked down the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, following an incident on January 10 when three correctional officers were reportedly assaulted. Dozens of incarcerated people interviewed by Prisoners’ Legal Services reported being locked in their cells all day and all night, only let out for fifteen […]

Seven Days in Solitary [1/27/20]

• The Texas Observer published a piece telling the story of solitary confinement in Texas prisons, through various firsthand accounts from people who spent significant time in severe isolation. According to its own numbers, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) holds over 4,400 people in solitary, including 1,300 people held in isolation for six or […]

Seven Days in Solitary [1/20/20]

• NPR obtained the findings from a 2017 investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Adelanto Processing Center in California, operated by the private prison company GEO Group. The report found the facility in violation of ICE standards for several reasons, including […]

Seven Days in Solitary [1/13/20]

• The Associated Press reported that the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Mississippi NAACP, and the ACLU of Mississippi wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, calling for “immediate intervention” in the “acute and undeniable crises, with five deaths in just the last ten days, and a history of preventable deaths and injuries.” […]