Seven Days in Solitary [1/19/13]

Seven Days in Solitary [1/19/13]

by Jean Casella

Solitary confinement news roundupThe following roundup features noteworthy news, reports and opinions on solitary confinement from the past week that have not been covered in other Solitary Watch posts.

• An NPR report by Laura Sullivan discusses the treatment of people with mental illness in Chicago’s Cook County Jail–and in jails around the country–including the extensive use of solitary confinement. Sullivan’s piece includes disturbing accounts of visits to the psych wards at the jail, where one-third of those held are mentally ill.

• The annual report (in French) of L’Acat (Christian Action for the Abolition of Torture) includes an account of long-term solitary confinement (l’isolement prolongé) in the United States, calling it “la forme la plus répandue de torture psychologique.”

• As Courthouse News Service reports, “Public criticism may have led prison officials to suspend the visitation privileges of a woman married to a Georgia inmate, a federal judge ruled.” The woman was banned from visiting her husband after she spoke to the media about the 2012 hunger strike he and others had launched to protest conditions in solitary confinement.

• On Alternet, Alex Kane reports on the No Separate Justice campaign, which opposes “an abusive system that has wreaked havoc on the lives of hundreds of Muslims” accused of terrorism-related offenses. Solitary confinement–including coercive pretrial solitary–figures heavily in the treatment of these individuals.

• Matt Stroud reports for In These Times on the long-running Dallas 6 case, back in court in Pennsylvania this week. “In this case, six prisoners are charged with inciting a riot after covering their solitary confinement cell windows. The prisoners claim that they were mounting an act of protest in the wake of an advocacy group’s report about harsh conditions and treatment at the prison.”

• A new report (in Spanish) from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on pretrial detention highlights the excessive use of pretrial solitary confinement (aislamiento solitario) in the United States, including its use on children awaiting trial in the adult criminal justice system.

• According to Courthouse News Service, the federal 9th Circuit ruled that “prison officials in Washington must face claims that their refusal to turn off the lights in segregation cells amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.” The plaintiff in the case, which the state sought to have dismissed, “claimed that he developed insomnia, migraine headaches and confusion while being held for nearly two weeks in the Special Management Unit (SMU), in which at least one light stays on all day and night.”

• A bill to limit the use of solitary confinement was introduced in the New Hampshire state legislature.

• On Alternet, Solitary Watch contributor Aviva Stahl profiles Ojore Lutalo, who spent decades in solitary in New Jersey because, according to official documents, his “radical views and ability to influence others poses a threat to the orderly operation of this Institution.”

Jean Casella

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