solitary confinement

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Some criminal justice activists are disappointed by the number of reform proposals that have stalled in Virginia's legislature this year, despite a new Democratic majority.

Proposals to end solitary confinement, reinstate parole and make it easier to expunge criminal records been put off until next year or sent to a crime commission for study.

But Democratic leaders note that multiple reforms have advanced or passed in just the first month of the legislative session.

State of Delaware

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to end the use of solitary confinement at two of the state's toughest prisons.

The lawsuit filed Monday alleges that inmates held in solitary confinement for extended periods of time at the Red Onion and Wallens Ridge prisons have suffered "severe physical and mental health damage."

Both Red Onion and Wallens Ridge are super maximum-security prisons in the southwest corner of Virginia.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - Morgan State University has honored a Philadelphia journalist for his reporting on a black inmate who spent 37 years in solitary confinement.

The historically black school in Baltimore said Thursday in a statement that reporter Mensah M. Dean humanized convicted killer while exposing injustices in the prison system.

Dean is a reporter for the Philadelphia Media Network. His stories appear in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and on

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DOVER, Del. (AP)- A federal judge has approved a settlement in a lawsuit alleging that mentally ill inmates in Delaware have been subjected to solitary confinement without proper evaluation, monitoring and treatment.
Under the settlement approved late last week, the Department of Correction will limit the length of time that inmates spend in disciplinary housing and will increase the amount of unstructured recreation time available to inmates in certain maximum security settings.

creative commons

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware prison officials have reached a tentative settlement in a federal lawsuit alleging that mentally ill prisoners have been subjected to solitary confinement without proper evaluation, monitoring and treatment.

As part of the settlement, the Department of Correction has agreed to undertake steps to better classify, track and care for prisoners with mental health issues and in restrictive housing. Prison officials also have agreed to create a special needs unit at the women's prison in New Castle.

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A Delaware Supreme Court decision finds former death row inmate Isaiah McCoy back in solitary confinement at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution.

The high court ruled that a lower court judge had erred when he ordered prison officials to move him out of solitary confinement.

His attorney had argued that the 5 years in solitary confinement had affected his mental state and was hindering his participation in preparing for his upcoming retrial.

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Former death row inmate Isaiah McCoy will be able to privately meet with his attorney.

That assurance came after his lawyer complained he was being denied access to his client without a correctional officer being present.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that Herbert Mondros wrote in a letter to the judge saying that this was no way to prepare for a murder trial.

After this week’s hearing Mondros said this will now allow him a better opportunity to prepare the case with his client.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - A judge is holding a hearing regarding the custody status of a former Delaware death row inmate whose conviction and death sentence were overturned last year.

Wednesday's hearing comes four months after the court granted a request by Isaiah McCoy to be released from solitary confinement and transferred into the general prison population while awaiting a retrial.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A divided federal appeals court has upheld Virginia's policy of automatically holding death row inmates in solitary confinement.

In a 2-1 ruling Tuesday, a panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a judge's finding that the policy violates inmates' due process rights.

The policy was challenged by Alfredo Prieto, who was sentenced to death for the 1988 murders of two George Washington University students in Reston. He has spent most of the last six years alone in a 71-square-foot cell.

creative commons

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia's practice of automatically holding death row inmates in solitary confinement will be reviewed by a federal appeals court.

Experts say that if the court upholds a ruling in favor of condemned inmate Alfredo Prieto, prisoners in other death penalty states could be encouraged to file similar challenges.