NEWS: Roundup of National News on Isolated Confinement, May 2013

Compiled by the CAIC Research Committee.

May 2013

Numerous advocacy and religious organizations are supporting a sign-on campaign for a letter asking Attorney General Eric Holder to ban the practice of holding youth in federal custody in solitary confinement.

May 30, 2013

The ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Law Offices of Elizabeth Alexander filed a federal lawsuit in May 2013 on behalf of individuals imprisoned at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF), describing the for-profit prison as hyper-violent, grotesquely filthy and dangerous.

May 23, 2013

A Cree woman from Saskatchewan who felt she was losing her mind while being held in solitary confinement in federal prisons has settled a lawsuit that claimed she was being treated illegally and inhumanely. But she said being sent into solitary confinement didn’t help her face up to her past–it only increased her sense of hopelessness. In Canada, 23 per cent of the federal prison population is aboriginal, even though aboriginals account for just four per cent of the population.

Advocates for the closing of Guantanamo and the transfer of the men who will not be tried responded to Obama’s speech on national security, welcoming his stated reengagement on Guantanamo and his decision to lift the ban on transfers to Yemen. However they expressed disappointment with his comment that cleared men will only be released “to the greatest extent possible.” And, although Obama pledged to review detainees for transfer, in fact reviews have already happened as is evident in the fact that so many of the men have been “cleared.” Statements of disappointment also note his failure to take any concrete action.;

In Texas, the House tentatively approved Senate Bill 1003, which would require a now-defunct legislative oversight committee to hire an independent party to review solitary confinement conditions in Texas prisons and juvenile lockups.

May 22, 2013

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the first “Underwear Bomber,” is appealing his conviction and sentence. One of the grounds for the appeal is that solitary confinement caused serious mental damage and made him increasingly incompetent to represent himself.

May 21, 2013

Senate Judiciary Committee passes historic Solitary Confinement Legislation limiting the use of solitary confinement in immigration detention. The amendment to the immigration bill, which was approved prohibits the use of solitary in immigration detention for minors under the age of 18; limits its use to brief periods under the least restrictive means possible; and includes provisions that would benefit mentally ill individuals and others who may require special protections in custody. However, it falls short of banning solitary confinement for detainees with mental illness.

May 20, 2013

Legislation introduced in the NYC Council to compel the city Department of Correction to limit the rampant use of solitary confinement. Councilman Dromm, who introduced the bill says “It is obvious to me that the aim of solitary, as it is now used, is to break the human spirit, with devastating consequences for all of us.”

May 18, 2013

A federal lawsuit on behalf of eight men held at North Carolina’s Central Prison alleges correctional officers, in the unit where individuals are kept in solitary confinement for disciplinary reasons, used “blind spots” out of view of security cameras to beat handcuffed and shackled inmates. The suit names 21 correctional officers accused of participating in the abuse, as well as two wardens at the maximum security prison in Raleigh who are said to have known about the problem.–Inmate-Beatings-Lawsuit

May 17, 2013

On this, the 100th day of the hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay, activists delivered more than 370,000 petition signatures, in an effort to pressure Obama to keep his promise to close the detention facility.

May 14, 2013

Following release of the Guantanamo SOP regarding forced feeding the ACLU has urged Secretary Hagel to also investigate Guantánamo prisoners’ recent reports of excessive force, isolation, temperature manipulation, and forced sleeplessness as well as the forced feeding.

May 13, 2013

Al Jazeera published the most recent standard operating procedure (SOP) used by the military in Guantanamo regarding hunger strikes. The document exposes the brutality of the force-feeding. Among the changes from the 2005 SOPs: the chief medical officer in Guantanamo no longer makes the final call as to who is labeled a hunger striker the military commander of the base makes that determination; and language regarding prisoner autonomy has been deleted.

May 12, 2013

Washington prisons begin to offers programs for people in solitary confinement, including anger management.–Solitary-No-More

Editorial on youths placed in solitary confinement from the LA Times. Because juvenile justice officials in California often claim that isolation is part of their treatment programs, whereas, in reality it can look an awful lot like retaliation, punishment or professional incompetence, a bill has been introduced in the State Senate which would require them to certify that mental health evaluations were part of the decision-making process for each juvenile, and to document all instances of solitary lockdown, under consistent standards and definitions.,0,4504595.story?

May 9, 2013

El Pueblo Boys and Girls Ranch, a teen ‘treatment’ center has been ordered by Colorado officials to suspend operation of its reflections cottages. The action followed a complaint by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado alleging that: kids are locked and placed in solitary confinement in those “reflections cottages”; they are not provided adequate education programs during their stays in “reflection”; and “are not provided recreation, exercise or outdoor activity” and that this violated the constitutional rights of the youth.

May 3, 2013

Two new bills have been introduced in the New York City Council. One would require the Department of Correction to post a monthly report on its website about punitive segregation; numbers, length of stay, etc.  The second seeks to end the practice of time owed (in solitary) applied to individuals who are re-incarcerated.  This latter policy change is challenged by the head of the prison employees’ union. Unfortunately, the resolution is only a request, because the Council does not have the authority to make the Department of Correction adhere.

May 2, 2013

People held in solitary at Pelican Bay State Prison in California filed for class-action status, seeking to broaden their 3-year-old federal lawsuit alleging the state’s segregation policies equate to cruel and inhumane treatment.,0,3566059.story

May 1, 2013

Two international groups, the IACHR and the UN expressed criticism of the use of indefinite detention and the forced feeding of hunger strikers at Guantanamo as violations of international human rights law.


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