Groups Sue to Stop Indefinite Solitary Confinement in Pennsylvania

The Appeal, 03/04/24: “Several legal groups filed a federal class action suit today to prohibit the state of Pennsylvania from using indefinite solitary confinement or placing anyone with mental illness in isolation units.

‘Plaintiffs seek to end the prolonged, never-ending cycle of torture of incarcerated individuals in solitary confinement units in the DOC,’ the complaint says.

Attorneys for the Abolitionist Law Center, Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, and firm Dechert LLP also asked the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to order the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) to provide due process protections for people who will be or are already in solitary confinement and to award damages to those with mental illness who have been placed in solitary confinement, as well as those who have been subjected to long-term solitary confinement.

The suit says the DOC has various names for its solitary confinement units, but the conditions are generally the same: long-term, often indefinite isolation. Many do not know how, if, or when they can return to the general population.

‘I live in my bathroom, which doubles as a torture chamber, but often feels like a casket,’ Khalil Hammond, one of the named plaintiffs, said in an audio recording shared with The Appeal. Hammond says he has been in solitary confinement for the last dozen years.

The lawsuit filed today is the most recent attack on Pennsylvania’s notorious use of solitary confinement. Last year, the same law firms filed an amended complaint challenging the constitutionality of so-called Security Threat Group Management Units, where people are held indefinitely in solitary confinement based on evidence they are not allowed to see and allegations they are not allowed to respond to.”

Read the full story here.