Fourteen Days in Solitary [6/8/20]

• The New York Daily News reported that prosecutors for the Bronx District Attorney will not pursue criminal charges related to the death of Layleen Polanco, a 27-year-old Afro-Latinx, transgender woman, last June. Polanco died from an epileptic seizure while being held in punitive segregation, or solitary confinement, at Rikers Island jail in New York […]

Seven Days in Solitary [4/27/20]

• The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released the conclusion of a study, finding that African and Caribbean immigrants are held in solitary confinement six times more often than their non-Black counterparts in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities. Black immigrants represent four percent of all ICE detainees but make up 24 percent of stays […]

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 [10/21/19]

• The Texas Observer published an article about Russell Johnson, who died this past summer in solitary confinement in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Coffield Unit. His sister, Tambra Marsh, had noticed during her visits that her brother had psychologically deteriorated since his placement in solitary in 2016. Johnson talked about the voices haunting […]

Seven Days in Solitary [9/16/19]

• The Colorado Independent reported on the story of Sam Mandez, a 41-year-old man who was sentenced to life without parole under the state’s felony murder law for being the lookout at a robbery at which someone was killed. Mandez was fourteen years old at the time. Under the 2012 Supreme Court ruling that bars mandatory life […]

Seven Days in Solitary [8/26/19]

• According to the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), nine people held at Scotland Correctional Institution in North Carolina, calling themselves the Scotland 9, have been hunger striking for nearly a month since July 31. The strikers are calling for recreation to be re-instated, increased allowance of phone calls, an end to sleep deprivation practices, and […]

Seven Days in Solitary [8/12/19]

• Reports this week on the suicide of high-profile detainee Jeffrey Epstein at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan have been full of questions and speculation about how such a thing could have been allowed to happen. Epstein had reportedly been on suicide watch, but was taken off and was in a cell […]

Seven Days in Solitary [8/5/19]

• According to CNN, the cause of 27-year-old Layleen Polanco’s death in June on the transgender “restricted housing unit” at Rikers Island in New York has been revealed as an epileptic seizure. Attorney David Shanies said that Polanco had suffered several seizures at Rikers and corrections officials were aware of her condition. “When an epileptic person […]

Seven Days in Solitary [7/22/19]

• Reuters (along with many other media outlets) reported that Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was sent to the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum, or ADX, in Florence, Colorado, on Friday, after being sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years on drug trafficking and murder conspiracy charges. Guzmán said that the conditions he had faced at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, […]

Seven Days in Solitary [7/8/19]

• The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a class action lawsuit recently, alleging that Florida’s use of solitary confinement constitutes a violation of the 8th Amendment, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act. About 10,000 people—or 10 percent—of those held in Florida prisons currently live in solitary, which is double the national average. Admire […]