PA DOC Solitary Confinement Cases (Hammond | Henderson | Walker)

On March 4, 2024, people incarcerated at six prisons across Pennsylvania filed Hammond v. PA DOC, a federal class action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of solitary confinement in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, and seeking relief and damages. The suit was the first of its kind seeking to end prolonged and indefinite solitary confinement and prohibit all solitary confinement for anyone with a mental health diagnosis. Each of the six plaintiffs have documented mental illness diagnoses that have worsened considerably during repeated and prolonged periods of solitary confinement.

The dangers of solitary, including increased instances of self-harm and suicide attempts, are documented by decades of research. There is consensus within the scientific community that the isolating conditions of solitary confinement exacerbate mental health conditions. The lawsuit seeks a prohibition against the placement of any incarcerated person with mental health diagnoses in solitary confinement. It is also well known that solitary confinement causes symptoms of mental illness even in people with no such history, especially when it is imposed for a prolonged period.

The lawsuit, Hammond v. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections 2:24-cv-00922, was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, seeking injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages. The plaintiffs are represented by Alexandra Morgan-Kurtz and Matthew A. Feldman of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project (PILP); Bret Grote, Jaclyn Kurin, and Dolly Prabhu of Abolitionist Law Center; Will W. Sachse, Noah Becker, and Stormie Mauck of Dechert LLP.

Read the initial press release here about the case filing, including testimonials from plaintiffs about their experiences with solitary confinement.

In May 2024, the original, all-encompassing case was split into three separate cases, each with different focal points. An amended complaint was filed in Hammond v. PA DOC updating that case to focus on solitary confinement of people with mental health conditions. Henderson v. Harry was filed to focus on prolonged solitary confinement of three years or more. And Walker v. Harry was filed to focus on due process challenges to those in solitary on the Restricted Release List or the Intensive Management Unit.

Case Timeline

03/04/24: Complaint Filed

View the complaint and initial press release

03/04/24: Complaint Filed Cancel

Read the complaint here and the full press release here.

05/29/24: Original Case Split Into Three Cases (Hammond v. PA DOC, Henderson v. Harry, Walker v. Harry)

Amended Complaint Filed in Hammond v. PA DOC; Henderson v. Harry Complaint Filed; Walker v. Harry Complaint Filed

05/29/24: Original Case Split Into Three Cases (Hammond v. PA DOC, Henderson v. Harry, Walker v. Harry) Cancel