Tag Archive: solitary confinement

Inmates stage food protest at maximum-security Nevada prison

hungerstrik2From Las Vegas Sun

A group of inmates at Nevada’s maximum-security prison in Ely refused food for two days to call attention to claims they’re not getting enough to eat, according to Nevada corrections officials and a group that advocates for prisoner rehabilitation.

 Twenty-six inmates in one Ely State Prison unit refused meals Friday morning “as a result of their interpretation of reduced food portions,” the state Department of Corrections said in an unsigned statement responding to questions from the Associated Press.

Seventeen inmates continued the meal boycott Saturday morning, the statement said. Prison administrators met with each inmate “to listen to their issues,” and all inmates were taking meals by Saturday evening, officials said. (more…)

Sean Swain and Retaliatory Transfer to Ohio’s Most Notorious Prison

seanswainFrom Sean Swain

“I’ve been wearing the same pair of underwear since Tuesday. That night at three in the morning the warden at the super duper max, Jay “Lowdown” Forshay informed me that I was being transferred to Lucasville. Lucasville, home of the 1993 prisoner uprising, is a psychological September Eleventh for the Ohio prison system. It’s also the prison where ODRC officials attempted to put former prisoner writer Timothy “Little Rock” Reed in order to engineer his death until he gained asylum from Ohio in New Mexico, proving conclusively that Ohio prison officials attempted to murder him.

In the lead up to this transfer prison officials tried several times unsuccessfully to silence me. Blocking phone communication for eight weeks to keep me off the radio, intercepting intercepting postings for SeanSwain.org and communications with counsel who filed a civil action against prison officials on my behalf, and then blocking my video visits to stop me from generating video on the site, which is illegal, not that the laws matter to fascists.

In response I undertook a hunger strike until I was threatened with being tossed in the hole, which is illegal, not that laws matter to fascists. So I began a med strike, and then OSP physician James Kline held me incommunicado with medical isolation, in a torture cell, until I agreed to take blood pressure medication I had refused, which is illegal, not that they care.

So, before I could even finish writing the epic tale of those wacky shenanigans, I was told to hop on a prison bus for Lucasville. When I protested that this was selective, Jay Lowdown said, “we thought you’d say that, that’s why thirty seven others are going with you. So, to disguise prison fascist’s targeting of me, they tossed thirty seven other dolphins into the tuna net as collateral damage.

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Prison Architecture and the Question of Ethics

A death-row jail cell in Huntsville, Tex. The design of such quarters has raised questions.

A death-row jail cell in Huntsville, Tex. The design of such quarters has raised questions.

From The New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO — Faced with lawsuits and a growing mountain of damning research, New York City officials decided last month to ban solitary confinement for prison inmates 21 and younger. Just a few weeks earlier, the American Institute of Architects rejected a petition to censure members who design solitary-confinement cells and death chambers.

“It’s just not something we want to determine as a collective,” Helene Combs Dreiling, the institute’s former president, told me. She said she put together a special panel that reviewed the plea. “Members with deeply embedded beliefs will avoid designing those building types and leave it to their colleagues,” Ms. Dreiling elaborated. “Architects self-select, depending on where they feel they can contribute best.”

What are the ethical boundaries for architecture? Architecture is one of the learned professions, like medicine or law. It requires a license, giving architects a monopoly over their practices, in return for a minimal promise that buildings won’t fall down. Raphael Sperry, the Bay Area architect who spearheaded the petition to the institute, thinks the public deserves more in return for that monopoly. (more…)

Hundreds of South Carolina Inmates Sent to Solitary Confinement Over Facebook

 In the South Carolina prison system, accessing Facebook is an offense on par with murder, rape, rioting, escape and hostage-taking.

Back in 2012, the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) made “Creating and/or Assisting With A Social Networking Site” a Level 1 offense [PDF], a category reserved for the most violent violations of prison conduct policies. It’s one of the most common Level 1 offense charges brought against inmates, many of whom, like most social network users, want to remain in contact with friends and family in the outside world and keep up on current events. Some inmates ask their families to access their online accounts for them, while many access the Internet themselves through a contraband cell phone (possession of which is yet another Level 1 offense).

Through a request under South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act, EFF found that, over the last three years, prison officials have brought more than 400 disciplinary cases for “social networking”—almost always for using Facebook. The offenses come with heavy penalties, such as years in solitary confinement and deprivation of virtually all privileges, including visitation and telephone access. In 16 cases, inmates were sentenced to more than a decade in what’s called disciplinary detention, with at least one inmate receiving more than 37 years in isolation.

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Help Stop the Reign of Terror by Alabama Prison Officials

adoc(from Free Alabama Movement)

The Free Alabama Movement (FAM), composed of some of the men and women incarcerated in Alabama state prisons, along with their family members and friends, are in urgent need of your help. Currently, three Alabama maximum security prisons for men are on lockdown. At one of those prisons, St. Clair Correctional Facility (SCCF) in Springville, Ala., the men are daily being subjected to beatings by guards and other unprecedented violence.

Furthermore, the U.S. Dept. of Justice has just ended an investigation of Alabama’s Tutwiler Prison for Women, where the women have been habitually raped and sexually abused by the male guards and staff going back 20 years.

Please help FAM with its campaign to get the man fired who is responsible for the reign of terror at SCCF, Warden Carter Davenport, and to get Tutwiler’s warden, Bobby Barrett, fired. Send the letter below to Col. Jefferson Dunn, who (after retiring from the Air Force) will take office in March as the new commissioner of the Alabama Dept. of Corrections (ADOC). (more…)

Women in Solitary Confinement

womensolitaryFrom Truth Out/By Victoria Law

Victoria Woodrich had had enough. On November 11, 2014, six weeks before her 36th birthday, she tied a sock around her neck; she tied the other end to the top of her bed structure. By the time staff found her at 3:30 that afternoon, she was dead.

Woodrich, known as Shortybang to her friends, had been in prison for more than a decade and at Illinois’ Logan Correctional Center since its 2013 conversion to a women’s prison. Earlier that month, she was placed in the prison’s segregation unit, where women are locked in their cells nearly 24 hours a day.

“She kept telling me she wanted to die,” recalled Nicole Natschke, who was in segregation during that time. “She told me that everyone would be better off without her.” Three days later, the woman awoke to screaming. That was when she learned that Woodrich had hung herself. (more…)

Record 346 inmates die, dozens of guards fired in Florida prisons

Jerry Washington (left); Latandra Ellington (middle); Randall Jordan-Aparo (right). All died in prisons at the hands of guards in the most unjust ways imaginable.

Jerry Washington (left); Latandra Ellington (middle); Randall Jordan-Aparo (right). All died in prisons at the hands of guards in the most unjust ways imaginable.

From Daily Kos

The United States has a prison crisis of epic proportions. With just five percent of the world population, but 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, the United States has, far and away, the highest incarceration rate, the largest number of prisoners, and the largest percentage of citizens with a criminal record of any country in the world.The highly respected Prison Policy Initiative breaks it down:

The U.S. incarcerates 716 people for every 100,000 residents, more than any other country. In fact, our rate of incarceration is more than five times higher than most of the countries in the world. Although our level of crime is comparable to those of other stable, internally secure, industrialized nations, the United States has an incarceration rate far higher than any other country.Nearly all of the countries with relatively high incarceration rates share the experience of recent large-scale internal conflict. But the United States, which has enjoyed a long history of political stability and hasn’t had a civil war in nearly a century and a half, tops the list.

If we compare the incarceration rates of individual U.S. states and territories with that of other nations, for example, we see that 36 states and the District of Columbia have incarceration rates higher than that of Cuba, which is the nation with the second highest incarceration rate in the world.

Now, what we are learning is that the United States is not just imprisoning people at an outrageous pace, but that men and women are dying in these prisons at all-time highs, often at the hands of guards, in the most awful and brutal ways imaginable. The state of Florida, it appears, is ground zero for the deaths of prisoners, and the crisis is so deeply corrupt and out of hand that it needs immediate national intervention.In 2014, Florida recorded at least 346 deaths inside of their prison system, an all-time high for the state in spite of the fact that its overall prison population has hovered around 100,000 people for the five previous years. Hundreds of these deaths from 2014 and from previous years are now under investigation by the DOJ because of the almost unimaginable role law enforcement officers are playing in them.

Below the fold I will highlight some of the most egregious stories.

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Prison worker dismissed for inmate’s death has new position

michael_kerr_webFrom The Indy

At least one North Carolina prison official who lost his job following the death of inmate Michael Anthony Kerr has a new position in the Department of Public Safety.

DPS spokeswoman Pam Walker confirmed this week that John Monguillot, the former assistant director of mental health in the prison system’s western region, received a demotion after Kerr’s death. He is now the psychological services coordinator at Marion Correctional Institution in western North Carolina, where he oversees mental health services at the facility.

As a result, Monguillot’s annual salary dropped from $93,786 to just under $80,000. Walker did not offer any additional comment on Monguillot’s demotion. (more…)

Prison captain fired over inmate death wants job back

kerrFrom WRAL

A corrections captain fired earlier this year after a mentally ill inmate died of thirst appeared in court this week to fight for his job.

Shawn Blackburn, formerly a captain at Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville, N.C., was dismissed for “grossly inefficient” job performance in April amid an investigation into the death of inmate Michael Anthony Kerr. Correction officials found Kerr dead in the back of a van March 12 after the inmate was transferred from Alexander to Central Prison in Raleigh. The state medical examiner later found Kerr died of dehydration.

The former captain is one of at least nine Alexander employees fired in the wake of Kerr’s death. At least two others resigned, and the N.C. Department of Public Safety says close to 30 people have been disciplined or demoted in some form. Like Blackburn, many are appealing their dismissals.

Although the hearing is a quasi-judicial process that takes place in a courtroom environment, it is not a trial. Rather, Blackburn was making the case he should not have been fired for Kerr’s death. Others investigating the matter for possible criminal conduct include a federal grand jury and the State Bureau of Investigation, which is overseen by the same administrative department as the prison system.

Corrections officials say Blackburn violated policy and demonstrated poor judgment when he left Kerr, who suffered from schizoaffective disorder, confined in handcuffs for five days in solitary confinement, where the inmate had been segregated for more than a month.

“Yes he was an inmate, but he was a human being,” Assistant Attorney General Tamika Henderson, arguing for the state, said. “It comes down to fact that while in control of the Department of Public Safety, a man died after being handcuffed for five days in a segregation cell sitting in his own urine and feces.” (more…)

Is Solitary Confinement Torture? New Report From UNC School Of Law

solitary censoredFrom The State of Things

Long-term solitary confinement is a cruel, inhumane and degrading form of punishment, according to a new report from The University of North Carolina School of Law.

The 225-page report, Solitary Confinement as Torture,  identifies torture as the infliction of severe pain- physical  or psychological- for the purposes of punishing an individual for something they have done or are accused of doing. Lead author Deborah Weissman told The State of Things host Frank Stasio that solitary confinement is a form of punishment “beyond the bounds of human decency.”

It’s a form of punishment “beyond the bounds of human decency.” – lead author of Solitary Confinement as Torture, Deborah Weissman

Students who worked on this report went to prisons and spoke with prisoners who had been in solitary confinement. They listened to narratives from other sources, listened to what experts had to say on the issue and looked for other alternatives. (more…)