Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsSolitary Confinement
IN THE NEWS

Solitary Confinement

FEATURED ARTICLES
OPINION
April 24, 2012
Over the last 10 years, California's juvenile justice system has begun to emerge from the darkest of its dark days. In settling lawsuits, the state agreed to turn away from inhumane practices and reduce youth prison violence, abide by laws that require educational and mental health and healthcare services, and provide access for the physically disabled. The state was caught physically abusing its wards, sometimes by looking the other way when fights broke out, sometimes by spurring the fights on, sometimes by guards actually beating the wards.
ARTICLES BY DATE
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 10, 2014 | By Paige St. John
SACRAMENTO -- A federal judge Thursday called California's use of large amounts of pepper spray to subdue mentally ill prisoners a "horrific" violation of constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment. U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton's order requires California to continue revising policies that govern how mentally ill inmates in the state's prisons are disciplined, including the use of solitary confinement. He found that such isoaltion of mentally ill inmates "can and does cause serious psychological harm" and must be limited.
Advertisement
OPINION
December 1, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Treatment of prison inmates has finally begun to capture the attention of California's lawmakers and public, in large part because two lawsuits over constitutionally inadequate medical and mental health care resulted in a federal court order to reduce the inmate population by thousands. The Dec. 31 deadline has been pushed back to February as the state negotiates with plaintiffs in the consolidated suits, and lawmakers and the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown work through plans to devote more funding to treatment and alternative sentencing for mentally ill felons.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 11, 2013 | By Paige St. John
SACRAMENTO - Federal judges have extended until April 18 the deadline for Gov. Jerry Brown's administration to ease prison crowding, after asking the state to limit the time some mentally ill prisoners spend in solitary confinement. U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton announced that he had accepted the state's offer of a 30-day isolation maximum for severely mentally ill inmates who have committed no rule violations. He then joined two other jurists in pushing back the overcrowding deadline and also in extending negotiations between the state and prisoners' lawyers until Jan. 10. In September, the judges ordered the state and the inmates' attorneys to negotiate long-term solutions to the crowding problem, including the early release of frail or elderly prisoners.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 2, 2013 | By Paige St. John
Inmates at California's highest security prison Thursday 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. The plaintiffs are all prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison, confined to the Security Housing Unit for what the state says are active ties with prison gangs, allegations the inmates deny. In the motion filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland, the prisoners contend they have been confined for years, and in some cases decades, to solitary, windowless cells where they spend almost all of their time, with little meaningful contact with others, restricted food, limited communication and no access to educational or treatment programs.
NATIONAL
October 10, 2012 | By Michael Muskal
Young people are being held for long periods of time in solitary confinement in prisons and jails, a practice that should be eliminated, two advocacy groups said Wednesday. A report released by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch found that those younger than 18 are being held in solitary confinement for weeks or months at a time, especially teenagers who are lodged in adult facilities. The isolation “causes anguish, provokes serious mental and physical health problems, and works against rehabilitation for teenagers,” the report found.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 7, 2013 | By Paige St. John
SACRAMENTO -- California lawmakers have scheduled a hearing Wednesday into the state's use of solitary confinement in its prisons, legislative action that was promised to encourage inmates to end their 60-day inmate hunger strike this summer over those practices. "The hunger strike made us look at these conditions, but they have been problematic for years,” Assembly Public Safety Chairman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) said in a statement accompanying announcement of the hearing date.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 27, 2013 | By Paige St. John
The union that represents corrections officers at California prisons seeks to intervene in a federal lawsuit over how long the state may keep inmates locked up in solitary confinement. A group of 10 inmates, each held a decade or longer in isolation at Pelican Bay State Prison near the Oregon border, contend that the practice of indefinite solitude is cruel and inhuman and violates their constitutional rights. A federal judge is hearing their request to turn the case into a class action.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 15, 2013 | By Paige St. John
OAKLAND -- A federal judge made it clear Thursday she won't grant California's bid to dismiss a lawsuit filed by state prisoners challenging the state's use of prolonged isolation -- in some cases decades -- for inmates not convicted of a new crime. Plaintiffs at Pelican Bay State Prison have remained in segregation for more than 10 years, “deprived of basic human needs for human contact and environmental stimulation,” their lawyer, Jules Lobel with the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, argued in U.S. District Court before Chief Judge Claudia Wilken.
NATIONAL
December 4, 2013 | By Alana Semuels
BOSTON -- Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may now meet with a mental health consultant without an attorney present, a tweak to special administrative measures put in place to ensure that he cannot incite terror from jail. Tsarnaev has been held in solitary confinement, his communications with the outside world restricted. His lawyers and the ACLU of Massachusetts had argued that the measures should be lifted in order to allow his legal team to do a better job representing him. But the government objected, saying he had already inspired some readers of an al Qaeda magazine and that he could do more harm in the future.
OPINION
December 1, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Treatment of prison inmates has finally begun to capture the attention of California's lawmakers and public, in large part because two lawsuits over constitutionally inadequate medical and mental health care resulted in a federal court order to reduce the inmate population by thousands. The Dec. 31 deadline has been pushed back to February as the state negotiates with plaintiffs in the consolidated suits, and lawmakers and the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown work through plans to devote more funding to treatment and alternative sentencing for mentally ill felons.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 18, 2013 | By Paige St. John
SACRAMENTO -- The United Nations' lead torture investigator says he is worried about increased use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and wants access to California lockups to ensure that prisoners' rights are being protected. "We should have more justification" for putting prisoners in isolation, Juan Mendez, the UN's special rapporteur (reporter) on torture told The Times' editorial board Friday. He called for greater scrutiny of prison systems that routinely put inmates in solitary confinement.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 9, 2013 | By Chris Megerian
SACRAMENTO - California lawmakers grilled state prison officials about controversial isolation units Wednesday, saying policies allowing long-term solitary confinement of inmates are "beyond the pale. " The hearing was an outgrowth of a two-month hunger strike that began in July and involved thousands of inmates protesting prison conditions. "The issues that were raised during the hunger strike are real," said Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley). " They cannot be ignored. " There are slightly more than 4,000 inmates in isolation units at four prisons, according to state Inspector General Robert Barton.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 8, 2013 | By Elaine Woo
For most of the past 41 years, Herman Wallace was allowed to leave his 6-by-9-foot Louisiana prison cell for only an hour a day a few times a week. He foresaw no end to the hours and days of his solitary confinement. Convicted in the fatal 1972 stabbing of a prison guard, Wallace maintained his innocence and used his time behind bars to draw attention to abusive prison conditions. His legal appeals brought his freedom last week when a federal judge in Baton Rouge ruled his indictment had been unconstitutional because the grand jury excluded women.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 7, 2013 | By Paige St. John
SACRAMENTO -- California lawmakers have scheduled a hearing Wednesday into the state's use of solitary confinement in its prisons, legislative action that was promised to encourage inmates to end their 60-day inmate hunger strike this summer over those practices. "The hunger strike made us look at these conditions, but they have been problematic for years,” Assembly Public Safety Chairman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) said in a statement accompanying announcement of the hearing date.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 26, 2013 | By Paige St. John
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.
OPINION
September 18, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
It is cruel and inhumane to keep prison inmates in solitary confinement for indefinite periods or to put them there for arbitrary reasons. Studies indicate that inmates subjected to prolonged isolation are at risk for mental illness and suicide. That's led human rights groups and the United Nations' special rapporteur on torture, among others, to conclude that solitary confinement should be abolished, with very few exceptions. Yet its use is widespread, not only in state and federal prisons but in immigration detention facilities.
Los Angeles Times Articles
|