Mental health concerns prompt lawsuit to end indefinite solitary confinement in Pennsylvania

Associated Press, 03/04/24: “Arguing that solitary confinement worsens mental health crises and violates Constitutional rights, six people incarcerated at prisons throughout Pennsylvania filed a federal class action lawsuit Monday seeking to end indefinite use of the practice.

Lawyers for the six plaintiffs say it is the first case of its kind to challenge indefinite solitary confinement and the use of solitary confinement for anyone with a mental health diagnosis. Lawyers are also seeking compensatory and punitive damages for the plaintiffs.

A similar suit was filed in October 2023, with incarcerated people at the Department of Corrections’ State Correctional Institution at Fayette arguing that the solitary confinement practices there worsened and created mental health crises based on secret evidence.

A number of lawsuits nationally have targeted the conditions of solitary confinement, saying the treatment of incarcerated people there has led to psychiatric episodes of self-mutilation and death due to lack of adequate care.

In Pennsylvania, legislation seeking to reform the practice and protect vulnerable populations has been introduced. A state House of Representatives judiciary committee hearing Tuesday is expected to focus on the use of it.”

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