North Carolina: Solitary Confinement of Prisoners with Mental Illness

Under Fire for Negligence, North Carolina Prisons Chief Seeks New Funding for Mental Health Treatment

December 15, 2014 | by Lisa Dawson North Carolina corrections chief David Guice wants more than $20 million to improve the treatment of people with mental illness in the state’s prisons. His request comes on the heels of two recent reports showing neglect and abuse of prisoners with psychiatric disabilities in North Carolina, and the…

U.N. Criticizes U.S. on Torture, Police Practices, Immigration Detention

ACLU: U.N. Criticizes U.S. on Torture, Police Practices, Immigration Detention

The following comes from the ACLU: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: media@aclu.org GENEVA – The United Nations Committee Against Torture issued a report today castigating the United States’ record on a wide range of issues, including lack of accountability for torture, immigration detention, and abusive criminal justice practices such as solitary confinement and excessive use of…

New York City Mayor De Blasio: We Need to Address People with Mental Illnesses in Jail

NEW YORK—At a Thursday press briefing on the Department of Correction’s planned reforms of jail conditions at Rikers Island, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Corrections Commissioner Joseph Ponte expressed that their biggest challenge is how to provide for mentally ill inmates. The mayor said the high proportion of inmates with a mental illness—at 40 percent…

Voices from Solitary | Nathan Brewer | Hamilton County Jail | Solitary Confinement

Voices from Solitary: A Day in the Life, Part VI

The following essay was originally published on Solitary Watch: This post is the next in a series of pieces Solitary Watch is publishing as part of a project calling for people held in solitary confinement to write on various proposed themes. Our first suggested theme, “A Day in the Life,” calls for writers to describe a day…

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U.S. Tells UN panel that Ban on Torture Applies to Everyone, Everywhere

GENEVA — The Obama administration moved forcefully Thursday to distance itself from Bush administration policies, telling a United Nations panel that the ban on torture enshrined in a 1984 treaty that the U.S. signed applies worldwide and covers all people and places, including detention facilities abroad. “The answer to the question whether the U.S. will…

The Inhumanity of How We Incarcerate

The Inhumanity of How We Incarcerate

North Carolina man Anthony Michael Kerr’s, who died of dehydration in solitary confinement, is only the latest horrifying story we’ve heard in recent months. You may recall Darren Rainey, the mentally ill Florida inmate whose skin was boiled off his bones when guards locked him in a scalding shower as a punishment. Former employees later alleged that staff at that Dade County facility made a “sport” of brutalizing the mentally ill. Or Jerome Murdough, who died of heat exposure after left unattended for hours in a cell in a Rikers unit for mentally ill patients. This, despite the fact that prison officials knew a heating unit malfunction had raised the temperature in those cells to dangerously high levels. Or Christopher Lopez, a schizophrenic man in Colorado who suffered two seizures and died on the concrete floor of a prison cell while guards allegedly mocked and laughed at him. Prison officials waited a year and a half before bothering to report his death.

Pope Francis Denounces Solitary Confinement, Calls for Prison Conditions That “Respect Human Dignity”

Pope Francis Denounces Solitary Confinement, Calls for Prison Conditions That “Respect Human Dignity”

In a wide-ranging speech on Thursday, Pope Francis revealed himself as a passionate criminal justice reformer. His words also suggest that he is familiar with the controversies surrounding solitary confinement and supermax prisons, and strongly opposes their use. Speaking at the Vatican to representatives of the International Association of Penal Law, the Pope said: “All Christians and people…

Reporting Human Rights Violations: A How-to Guide for Prisoners

Reporting Human Rights Violations: A How-to Guide for Prisoners

The following guide, published by the Human Rights Coalition, offers guidelines for prisoners on reporting human rights violations. The method described is simple, requiring documentation, intervention, and movement-building: [W]e learn the truth by gathering evidence (documentation); we take action according to the urgency of the situation and our capacity to move people (intervention); and we bring others…

A Beginning Resource Packet for California Prisoners’ Advocates

This resource packet for California prisoners’ advocates (researched and edited by members of the Pledge of Resistance and Human Rights Pen Pal Programs, projects of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition) comes from the website of Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity. According to PHSS: This packet is intended to be a resource to help folks involved in…

Leon Benson | Shakespeare in the SHU | Wabash SHU Solitary Confinement

Voices from Solitary, Analyzing Isolation

This post is the next in a series of pieces Solitary Watch is publishing as part of a project calling for people held in solitary confinement to write on various proposed themes. Our second suggested theme, “Analyzing Isolation,” calls for writers to provide their analyses of solitary, discussing ways in which the practice is harmful and counterproductive. …

Solitary Confinement Bill Passes Public Safety Committee, Could Mark End of Torturous Practice

The following comes from a recent email alert from Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition: Oakland—A bill designed to bring about reforms to the California’s internationally condemned use of indefinite solitary confinement, passed its first hurdle yesterday by a 4 to 2 vote (with one abstention) in the State Assembly’s Public Safety Committee. Assembly Member Tom…

Prison cell window

Senate Judiciary Committee to Hold Second Hearing on Solitary Confinement

The following comes from an email I recently received an email regarding the Senate Judiciary Committee’s second hearing concerning the use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and jails, “Reassessing Solitary Confinement II: The Human Rights, Fiscal, and Public Safety Consequences.” (Information regarding the last hearing can be found here and here.) The hearing, to be chaired by Sen. Dick…

Lethal Injection | Death Penalty

Missouri Pharmacy Refuses to Provide Lethal Drug for Execution

The following comes from RT: Pharmacy won’t provide lethal drug for Missouri execution February 18, 2014 An Oklahoma pharmacy has agreed not to supply compounded pentobarbital for an upcoming execution in Missouri, following a lawsuit filed by the convict arguing the substance is likely to cause “ultimately inhumane pain.” The lawsuit was filed by Michael…

US Judge Approves Force-Feeding California Prisoners on Hunger Strike

A US Judge approved today a request by California and federal officials to force-feed prisoners participating in the statewide hunger strike (view the legal filing here). The following comes from the Associated Press: SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A federal judge approved a request from California and federal officials on Monday to force-feed inmates if necessary as…

New ACLU report on the solitary confinement of mentally ill prisoners in Colorado

A new report by the ACLU of Colorado finds that the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) continues to depend on long-term solitary confinement to manage prisoners suffering from mental illness. According to the ACLU, Out of Sight, Out of Mind draws on 18 months of research, including interviews with prisoners, analysis of CDOC data, site visits, and review of prisoner…

California Prison Hunger Strike Enters Day Twelve

The following update on the California prison hunger strike comes from BohoBlog: It’s being called the largest hunger strike in California State history. As of Thursday, July 18, 1,457 inmates in fifteen state prisons continue to refuse food, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The hunger strike began on July 8 at Pelican Bay…

Action Alert: California Prison Hunger Strike

The following action alert comes from Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity: Greetings to all Pledge signers, Thank you for your support of the hunger strikers. As you may have heard, the hunger strike began in California on July 8 with 30,000 imprisoned people refusing to eat. Hundreds of media outlets have been covering this historic event.…

Action Alert: Support California Prison Hunger Strikers

The The Stop Mass Incarceration Network is calling for a day of support for the California prison hunger strikers on Friday, July 19. Details follow. Stop Prison Torture! Tens of thousands people held in horrible conditions in U.S. prisons have gone on hunger strike to say NO MORE to torture.  These prisoners have put their health and lives…

NCTT COR-SHU on California SHU Units & CDCR’s STG Step Down Program

The following discussion on the CDCR’s Security Threat Group (STG) Step Down Program for California SHU units comes from the Spring 2013 newsletter of Prisons.org. Creating broken men, Part 2: A discussion on CDCR’s new brainwashing mandate for SHU torture units by Zaharibu Dorrough, J. Heshima Denham, Kambui Robinson and Jabari Scott, NCTT Corcoran SHU “I…

The Reality of Solitary Confinement in the US

The following infographic compares life in solitary confinement in US prisons (using Pelican Bay as a reference) to solitary in an Iranian prison., examining factors that  impact a prisoner’s quality of life, including phone call privileges, ease of communication with neighboring cells, privacy and mattress quality. According to the infographic, an alarming 39% of suicides at Pelican…

Records Show Excessive Use of Force at Colorado Supermax

June 15, 2013 | By Lisa Dawson for Solitary Watch Records kept by the Colorado Department of Corrections show 61 instances from March 1, 2012 to March 1 of this year of corrections officers using force on men held at the Colorado State Penitentiary (CSP), where prisoners are held in administrative segregation on lockdown for 23 hours a day. The…

Pepper spray and restraint chairs: “Use of force” at Colorado’s supermax

June 12, 2013 | By Alan Prendergast | Denver Westword Blogs The year began with Manuel Rodriguez being strapped into a restraint chair. It ended with Rodriguez back in the chair. At Colorado’s state supermax prison, inmates get into confrontations with guards — over food, hygiene, privileges, a refusal to “cuff up” or whatever — out…

ACTION ALERT: William Van Poyck: Sentenced under false pretenses, yet scheduled to be executed in MINUTES

Sentenced under false pretenses, William Van Poyck has spent the last 26 years held in solitary on Florida’s death row for a murder he did not commit. Poyck is scheduled to be executed in minutes.  SHOW YOUR SUPPORT: TAKE ACTION! 1) Contact Florida Governor Rick Scott and tell him what you think. (850) 488-7146 (Email: Rick.Scott@eog.myflorida.com) 2) Sign the petition…