Tag Archive: lawsuits

Woodfox: Daily Death Row strip searches left him feeling ‘hopeless’

woodfoxFrom The Advocate

Albert Woodfox, serving life in prison for the 1972 murder of a security officer at Angola, told a federal judge Wednesday in Baton Rouge that multiple, daily strip searches and visual body cavity inspections leave him “helpless, hopeless.”

Woodfox, 66, is a maximum-security prisoner at the David Wade Correctional Center near Homer in Claiborne Parish. He is the last of the so-called Angola Three remaining in prison.

Woodfox seeks a court ruling that would end such searches as routine prison policy any time he is removed from his cell block for outdoor exercise, visits to the infirmary, visits from friends or family and discussions with his attorneys. (more…)

In States That “Reduce” Their Use of Solitary Confinement, Suffering Continues for Those Left Behind

tapley-supermax-photo-300x198From Solitary Watch

Under pressure from activists, lawsuits, and even a few reformers within the corrections system, several states have significantly reduced the number of people they hold in solitary confinement in their prison systems. These reductions, achieved largely through “reclassifying” prisoners and returning the least troublesome ones to the general population, have rightly been celebrated by opponents of solitary confinement.

In recent months, however, reports by organizations and investigative journalists have documented what happens to those who remain behind when the use of solitary is “reduced” rather than eliminated. In doing so, they show the pitfalls involved in opposing the “overuse” of solitary, rather than confronting all extreme isolation as torture. (more…)

Suit: Mentally ill NC inmate often pepper sprayed

Questions have been raised about the treatment of inmates in Unit One, a special 192-bed section at Central Prison known as "The Hole."

Questions have been raised about the treatment of inmates in Unit One, a special 192-bed section at Central Prison known as “The Hole.”

by Michael Biesecker/ from WNCN

Lawyers for an inmate who suffers from a serious mental illness say he was abused at North Carolina’s Central Prison by guards who repeatedly doused him with pepper spray while he was locked in a tiny cell.

Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and a victim of childhood sexual abuse, inmate Jerry C. Williams has spent much of his 57 years in state psychiatric hospitals and prisons. He was first arrested at age 10 for shoplifting and began hearing voices in his head in his late teens, according to his prison mental health evaluation.

He was most recently sentenced in 2002 by a judge in his native Wayne County to more than 28 years in prison for being a habitual felon, following a lengthy record of convictions for trespassing, assault and burglary. He has an IQ of 76 that provides him with “borderline Intellectual functioning,” according to prison records. (more…)

Pelican Bay solitary confinement case set to expand

guardtowerpelicanbayFrom Los Angeles Times

OAKLAND — A federal judge Thursday said she is likely to allow a lawsuit alleging that solitary confinement conditions at Pelican Bay State Prison amount to psychological torture, to be expanded from the cases of 10 prisoners to include about 1,100 inmates now held in indefinite isolation.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken expressed concern at a hearing, however, that changes the state has made in how it identifies inmates for isolation means those prisoners won’t be included in the pending class-action lawsuit.

What’s more, lawyers for the state say they are in the process of moving some existing prisoners out of confinement in Pelican Bay’s super-maximum security isolation cells.

“I’m wondering how I would manage a class that has people moving in and out,” Wilken said. Nevertheless, she used Thursday’s hearing in Oakland to set Nov. 3, 2014, for the trial. Her ruling over whether that trial will be a class action, or remain confined to the few inmates who filed the case, is yet to be decided. (more…)