State Legislation and Litigation RH Tracking
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StateCountyLawsuitSummaryStatusLast UpdatedLinkYearAdditional Info
Open cases highlighted in yellow.
"Last Updated" column refers to the last time the information was updated in this spreadsheet.
FederalPorter et al. v. Clarke et al.

No. 18-6257 (2019)
Defendants Harold W. Clarke, in his official capacity as director of the Virginia Department of Corrections, and David Zook, in his official capacity as warden of Virginia’s Sussex I State Prison (collectively, “State Defendants”), appeal a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia holding that conditions of confinement on Virginia’s death row violated the Eighth Amendment and enjoining reinstatement of those conditions.

The district court held that the death row inmates’ long-term detention in conditions amounting to solitary confinement created a “substantial risk” of psychological and emotional harm and that State Defendants were “deliberately indifferent” to that risk.

Affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit.
Decided (5/3/2019)8/2/2019
FederalAdams v. Carlson

488 F.2d 619 (1973)
This complaint alleged that

(1) each member of the class action suit was in segregated confinement at Marion, 

(2) that placement in that status by prison authorities was not attended by procedural safeguards guaranteed by the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, and

(3) that the segregated confinement at issue was in violation of the prohibition by the Eighth Amendment of cruel and unusual punishment. 
Plaintiffs Motion For a Preliminary Injunction is granted with respect to the censorship of mails, as set forth in the order above;

the Motion is in all other respects denied.
AlabamaBraggs et al. v. Dunn et al.

CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:14cv601-MHT (WO) (2014)
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) alleges that the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) puts the health and lives of prisoners at risk by ignoring their medical and mental health needs and discriminating against prisoners with disabilities – violations of federal law by a prison system that has one of the highest mortality rates in the country.

The SPLC and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP) filed suit to end these conditions in Alabama prisons.
In trial8/2/2019 release from SPLC:
AlabamaWilcox CountyPugh v. LockeIn these consolidated class actions, plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivation of their Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Isolation cells in the prison were severely overcrowded, and lacked running water and functioning toilets. Prisoners in isolation were unsupervised and only fed once a day, and only allowed to shower once every eleven days.Ruled in plaintiffs' favor. The judge issued detailed, precedent setting reforms to remedy the Eighth Amendment violations.
ArkansasHutto v. FinneyThis litigation began in 1969; it is a sequel to two earlier cases holding that conditions in the Arkansas prison system violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. The routine conditions that people in the Arkansas prison system had to endure were characterized by the District Court as "a dark and evil world completely alien to the free world." The punishments for misconduct (punitive isolation) not serious enough to result in punitive isolation were cruel, unusual, and unpredictable.a. 30 day judge-imposed cap on solitary confinement upheld, recognizing relevance of (1) duration and (2) conditions of solitary.

b. SCOTUS officially acknowledges that solitary confinement represents a type of punishment and therefore was subject to Eighth Amendment standards.
CaliforniaToussaint v. RushenPlaintiffs representing several different prisons in California protested many of the conditions of confinement in administrative segregation as violating the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, section 17 of the California Constitution.The court ruled prisons must give people in segregation a clean cell with clean clothing and clean sheets and adequate heat, ventilation, running water, and a working sink and toilet, among other improved conditions.
CaliforniaWright v. EnomotoThis action was brought by plaintiffs on behalf of themselves and the class of all male prisoners confined or subject to confinement in maximum security at four State of California prisons located, respectively, at San Quentin, Folsom, Soledad and Tracy. The complaint alleges two causes of action. The first challenges the procedures resulting in confinement of inmates in maximum security units for "administrative" reasons. The second challenges conditions of confinement in the units.Defendants, their agents, servants, employees, and all persons in active concert and participation with them be and are hereby restrained and enjoined from continuing to cause, authorize or permit transfers of prisoners from the general prison population into maximum security housing units in order to
segregate such prisoners for "administrative" reasons or purposes without first providing each such prisoner with the following procedural safeguards: 1) written notice of the reasons in sufficient detail to enable the prisoner to prepare a response or defense; 2) a fair hearing before one or more prison officials; 3) representation by counsel-substitute when prison officials determine that the inmate is illiterate or that the complexity of the issues makes it unlikely that he can collect and present the evidence necessary for an adequate comprehension of the case; 4) an opportunity to present witnesses and documentary evidence; and 5) a written decision including references to the evidence relied upon and the reasons for such confinement.
ColoradoDunlap v. ZavarasOn May 26, 2009, prisoners at the Colorado State Penitentiary (CSP) filed this pro se lawsuit against the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for allegedly violating his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The main pro se plaintiff had been sentenced to death on May 17, 1996 and automatically incarcerated at CSP, the highest security level prison in the CDOC. He, along with others at the prison, were subject to a CSP policy prohibiting prisoners from any outdoors exercise. The plaintiffs asserted that this policy, specifically that the lack of sunlight, constituted cruel and unusual punishment because it created a substantial risk of harm to his mental and physical health. The plaintiffs sought injunctive and declaratory relief. Settled. DOC agreed to move Mr. Dunlap to the administrative segregation unit at Sterling, where he will be entitled to regularly exercise in areas that are open to the sky, the sun, and the elements.
ColoradoRamos v. LammOn November 30, 1977, persons incarcerated in the maximum security unit of the Colorado State Penitentiary ("Old Max") at Canon City, Colorado, filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law against the State of Colorado, the Colorado Department of Corrections, and the maximum security unit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU of Colorado, the National Prison Project, and the Colorado Coalition of Legal Services Programs, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that conditions of confinement, including conditions of isolation cells and practices, at Old Max violated their constitutional rights. The district court ordered that the Old Max be closed; however, while the Tenth Circuit agreed that many of the conditions were unconcstitutional, it reversed on the question of the remedy, finding that the state had already taken significant steps toward building a new insitution.
ColoradoIn re MedleyJames J. Medley was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. Medley argued that he was sentenced under the statute of Colorado approved April 19, 1889, and which went into effect July 19, 1889, despite the fact that he committed his crime on May 13, 1889. The statute added to the punishment of death the further punishment of imprisonment by solitary confinement until the execution. Any law that is passed after the date on which a person commits a crime which inflicts a greater punishment on the crime than the law annexed to it at the time when it was committed or which alters the situation of the accused to his disadvantage is an ex post facto law within the meaning of that term as used in the Constitution of the United States. Nobody can be punished under a law that was not passed at the time a person commits a crime. Finds Colorado statute specifying solitary confinement prior to execution unconstitutional under ex post facto prohibition.
ColoradoLowe v. RaemischThis appeal grew out of a state prisoner’s alleged deprivation of outdoor exercise for two years and one month. The alleged deprivation led the prisoner (Mr. Donnie Lowe) to sue two senior prison officials, invoking 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and alleging violation of the Eighth Amendment. The district court declined to dismiss the personal liability claims against the two officials, and they appeal.Supreme Court declined to hear case and upheld that The Court of Appeals assumed that the deprivation of outdoor exercise for eleven months was a violation of the Eighth Amendment, but held prison officials were entitled to qualified immunity because the underlying constitutional right had not been clearly established in that circuit. 2018
ColoradoApodaca v. RaemischQuestion presented: Whether clearly established Eighth Amendment law permits prison officials to permanently deprive a prisoner in solitary confinement of outdoor exercise without a security rationale. Colorado state prisoners Jonathan Apodaca and Joshua Vigil were denied outdoor recreation during the 11 months they were confined in administrative segregation. Relying on Perkins v. Kansas Department of Corrections, 165 F.3d 803 (10th Cir. 1999) [PLN, Sept. 1999, p.27], they filed suit in federal court, arguing that the denial of outdoor exercise violated the Eighth Amendment.Supreme Court declined to hear case and upheld that The Court of Appeals assumed that the deprivation of outdoor exercise for eleven months was a violation of the Eighth Amendment, but held prison officials were entitled to qualified immunity because the underlying constitutional right had not been clearly established in that circuit.
FloridaDavis v. JonesPlaintiffs are inmates on Florida's death row. On behalf of themselves and all other similarly situation individuals, they bring this lawsuit to obtain declatory and injunctive relief from a patently unconstitutional Florida Department of Corrections policy that automatically places Florida prisoners sentenced to death in permanent solitary confinement, regardless of their behavior whlie incarcerated. Pending
FloridaPalm Beach CountyH. C. et al. v. Bradshaw et al.This class action lawsuit challenges the solitary confinement of children who are charged as adults, most of whom have not been convicted of any crime, at the Main Detention Center of the Palm Beach County Jail. While held in solitary confinement at the Jail, the Sheriff's Office and the individually named Defendants subject these children to substantial risk of serious harm despite being well aware of the physical and psychological harm has on these children, and choosing to do nothing about it.On November 15, 2018, Cohen Milstein and co-counsel, the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) and Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, reached a court-approved settlement with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and the Palm Beach County School Board to effectively end solitary confinement of juveniles at its jail facility. As a part of the settlement, both the Sheriff’s Office and the Palm Beach County School Board will ensure that all juveniles receive access to appropriate educational services, including receiving schooling outside of their jail cells. In addition, alternative behavior management policies will be employed in lieu of holding juveniles in solitary confinement. The Sheriff’s Office and School Board also agreed to independent monitoring by Plaintiffs’ counsel and their experts to ensure compliance with the Settlement Agreement.
FloridaJac'Quann (Admire) Harvard et al. v. Mark Inch and the Florida Department of CorrectionsHarvard, a 28-year-old black transgender woman, has been subjected to solitary confinement in a men’s prison since September 2009. Due to conditions in solitary confinement, she suffers from depression, anxiety and auditory hallucinations, and has attempted suicide multiple times. Harvard was 18 years old and diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was first placed in solitary by prison staff who accused her of lying to receive a high-calorie meal. She was initially sentenced to 60 days in solitary confinement, but has remained there ever since.

Citing scientific, medical and mental health evidence, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Florida Legal Services and the Florida Justice Institute have filed a federal class action lawsuit against the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC). The lawsuit challenges the FDC’s use of solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. Harvard is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Harvard v. Inch, filed today in the Northern District of Florida, Tallahassee Division. The lawsuit was filed under her birth name, Jac’Quann Harvard.
PendingMay 2019
GeorgiaQuintanilla v. Bryson et al.Edgar Quintanilla is a Georgia state prisoner housed in the Tier II Administrative Segregation Unit at Smith State Prison in Glennville, Georgia. He filed this pro se lawsuit alleging that his confinement in administrative segregation—more commonly known as solitary confinement—violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment and his due-process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. Pending
GeorgiaGumm v. JacobsIn 2010, while incarcerated, Plaintiff was charged with attempting to escape and destruction of state property. Investigating officers recommended that the charges be dropped, but Plaintiff was nonetheless brought to disciplinary court and was found guilty of both charges. On administrative appeal, the convictions were expunged from Plaintiff's record. For the next five years, however, he was kept in a Special Management Unit (solitary confinement) and segregated from the general prison population. Despite a prison policy enacted in 2013 stating that inmates in the Special Management Unit should be returned to the general population after four consecutive status reviews showing good behavior, after eight status reviews recommending and approving of transfer out of the Special Management Unit, plaintiff remained in solitary confinement without explanation. The grievances he submitted to prison officials regarding his placement were not addressed. The complaint also detailed substandard conditions and mistreatment in the Unit, including inadequate food and medical care and a total lack of recreational or educational opportunities. At the time plaintiff filed his complaint, he remained in the Special Management Unit with his status there marked "indefinite."Pending January 6, 2018
IllinoisUnited States ex rel. Miller v. TwomeyThis is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus by a prisoner presently incarcerated at Illinois State Penitentiary, Stateville, Joliet, Illinois, pursuant to a lawful conviction for armed robbery from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Prisoner is seeking release from "B" house lock-up (a mode of segregation designated for more difficult to handle prisoners wherein privileges available to the general prison population are curtailed and limited), on the grounds that he was confined therein without regard to due process of law and that conditions in "B" house are such that they constitute a form of cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.The Seventh Circuit vacated the district court decision in Armstrong v. Bensinger (former case name) and provided greater due process protection for inmates transferred to the punitive Special Program Unit at Stateville penitentiary.
IllinoisSanders v. MelvinCordell Sanders has been in solitary confinement at Pontiac Correctional Center for eight years, and the prison plans to keep him there for another ten. He has been diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder, schizoaffective disorder, and other conditions that make him dangerous to others when allowed greater liberty. But Sanders alleges in this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that, although his confinement may protect guards and other prisoners, the isolation, heat, and restricted air flow in solitary confinement harm him by aggravating both his psychological problems and his asthma. He contends that the conditions of his confinement — if not the fact of long-term solitary confinement under anyconditions — violate the Constitution.Pending,33&as_vis=12017
IndianaIsby v. Brown Since October 2006, Isby has been in long‐term segregation. He filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, citing the Eighth Amendment and the Due Process Clause. Isby is suing the State of Indiana and Indiana Department of Corrections for holding him in solitary confinement in Indiana prisons for 26 years, without an adequate review or explanation for keeping him solitary confinement.Pending,33&as_vis=12017
KansasPerkins v. Kansas Department of CorrectionsPlaintiff, who alleges that he has had AIDS since September 1993, has been housed in administrative segregation at the state prison in El Dorado, Kansas, during all times pertinent to this action. He seeks redress for (1) being required to wear a face mask whenever he leaves his cell;  (2) being denied all outdoor exercise for more than nine months;  and (3) being denied treatment for his serious medical condition. The district court granted plaintiff leave to proceed informa pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that “even a convicted murderer who had murdered another inmate and represented a major security risk was entitled to outdoor exercise.”,33&as_vis=11999
KansasGrissom v. RobertsRichard Grissom, a prisoner in the custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections, brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against a number of state corrections and prison officials (collectively the Prison Officials), alleging violations of his constitutional rights stemming from his lengthy placement in solitary confinement.Pending August 29, 2018
LouisianaHamilton v. VannoyThis class action challenges the policies and practices responsible for the placement of prisoners who are in prolonged and complete isolation on death row at Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola. Based solely on their death sentence, Marcus Hamilton, Winthrop “Earl” Eaton and Michael Perry (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) have been isolated in solitary confinement on Death Row between twenty-five to thirty-one years. Over three quarters of the more than seventy prisoners currently on Death Row have been in solitary confinement for over a decade, and none of them have ever had a meaningful opportunity to challenge this placement. Pending June 8, 2018
MassachusettsLaChance v. Commissioner of Correction, et al.This case arises from the decision of Massachusetts prison officials to confine plaintiff Edmund LaChance to long-term “segregation”—in effect, solitary confinement—without affording him the procedural protections mandated by the Massachusetts and federal constitutions, by prison regulations, and by this Court’s clear precedent. The court found that that LaChance's ten-month administrative segregation in the SMU on awaiting action status, during which he had the benefit of only informal status reviews, was unlawful. They also concluded that the law in this regard was not clearly established at the time of the underlying events, and that, with respect to LaChance's claim for damages, the defendants therefore are entitled to summary judgment, on the basis of qualified immunity.
MichiganFinley v. HussFinley is a Michigan prisoner with several severe psychiatric disorders. He claims that Huss and Schroeder, two prison wardens, violated his rights under the Constitution and federal law by placing him in administrative segregation—instead of a mental-health unit—after he swallowed a razor blade. Specifically, Finley raised Eighth Amendment deliberate-indifference claims, procedural due process claims, and claims under the Americans With Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act.PendingJanuary 25, 2018
MontanaDisability Rights Montana v. GlueckertPeople with mental illnesses who are in the Montana State Prison do not receive constitutionally adequate care. Disability Rights Montana sued the Montana Department of Corrections to seek relief against both the Montana DOC and the Montana Department of Health and Human Services.

In March 2016, the parties agreed to dismiss without prejudice the action against the Department of Health and Human Services. What remains is the action against the Department of Corrections that seeks comprehensive changes in the management, care and treatment of people incarcerated at the State Prison who suffer from serious mental illness (SMI).

Among the objectives are the reform, reorganization and augmentation of mental health care for people coupled with an absolute prohibition on the use of solitary confinement for those with SMI.

The case was dismissed before trial by the district court judge. Disability Rights Montana has appealed the dismissal and the appeal is now pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Pending7/23/2019; 2019 (on appeal)
NebraskaState of Nebraska v. Nikko JenkinsThe Nebraska Department of Correctional Services first imprisoned Nikko Jenkins in solitary confinement before his 19th birthday, in July of 2005. (E115, 3). As the sentencing panel acknowledged, “from October 17, 2003 through July 30, 2013, when he was serving his sentence, of the 97 months Nikko Jenkins was in the physical custody of the Nebraska Department of Corrections, he spent 58 months or nearly 60% of his time in ‘segregation’ i.e. solitary confinement.” (T729). During this time period, his serious mental illness was well documented, and included, among other diagnoses, bipolar disorder, psychotic disorder, schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorder, as well as accompanying troubling symptoms. Within two weeks of Mr. Jenkins’ release from solitary
confinement directly to the community in Omaha, he killed four people.
NebraskaSabata v. Nebraska Department of Corrections et al.Plaintiffs, and the class of prisoners they seek to represent, request injunctive and declaratory relief to compel Defendants Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, Scott R. Frakes, and Harbans Deol (collectively, “NDCS Defendants”); and Nebraska Board of Parole and Julie Micek (collectively, “BOP Defendants”) to immediately remedy the conditions of Nebraska’s prisons. Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief to compel Defendants to provide prisoners with constitutionally adequate health care, including medical, dental, and mental health care, and cease the excessive use of isolation. Plaintiffs further seek injunctive relief to compel Defendants to provide accommodations, auxiliary aids, and services to, and to cease discriminating against, prisoners with disabilities. Finally, Plaintiffs seek injunctive reliefto abate the extreme overcrowding in Nebraska prisons, which is a primary cause of the Constitutional and statutory violations described in this complaint.Pending; portion dismissedJuly 2018
New Hampshire
New JerseyMiddlesex CountyC-Pod Inmates of Middlesex County Adult Correction Center v. Middlesex CountyPlaintiffs are inmates housed at the Middlesex County Jail in “C-Pod,” a unit for solitary confinement. Whether they are there for their own protection, for disciplinary reasons, or to separate them from a codefendant while they await trial for years, the alleged conditions deplorable. Plaintiffs are locked in a small cell alone almost continuously, where they languish in a state of forced idleness. They cannot interact with other inmates. Family cannot visit them. They cannot participate in religious, educational or rehabilitative programs. They are never even allowed outdoors.Settled. Middlesex Country Adult Correction Center must limit time in solitary, increase time out of cell, institute programming and other forms of stimuli, screen for mental illness, and give more access to attorneys, among other things.
New Mexico
New YorkPeoples v. FischerThe plaintiff, Leroy Peoples, spent 780 days locked in a cell the size of an elevator with another prisoner for 24 hours a day as punishment for misbehavior that involved no violence and no threat to the safety or security of others. The lawsuit maintained that Mr. Peoples' grossly disproportionate punishment was caused by unconstitutional policies that similarly affect thousands of individuals incarcerated in New York prisons. It alleged that the frequency with which New York prisons used isolation as punishment was a direct result of official policies that permit staff to impose long isolation sentences regardless of whether the individual's behavior demonstrated any danger to the safety and security of prison staff or other prisoners, with few guidelines or restraints, and with inadequate consideration of the physical and psychological risk that isolation may pose to a particular individual.On February 19, 2014, the NYCLU and the DOCCS announced an agreement to reform not only the way solitary confinement is used in New York State's prisons, but with the state taking immediate steps to remove youth, pregnant inmates, and developmentally disabled and intellectually challenged prisoners from extreme isolation. Under the joint agreement, the state agreed to adopt sentencing guidelines for the first time, and set first-ever maximum limits on isolation-sentence lengths. With the agreement, New York State became the largest prison system in the United States to prohibit the use of solitary confinement as a disciplinary measure against prisoners who are younger than 18. If the process is successful as anticipated, the expert recommendations agreed upon by both parties will be implemented, analyzed and memorialized in a final settlement agreement in two years. If the process fails, the NYCLU will resume litigation.,33&as_vis=12012
New YorkSostre v. McGinnisSostre, a prisoner, sued New York correctional officers under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, alleging that his placement in segregated confinement' was "cruel and unusual punishment." He had been punitively segregated for writing legal documents for a codefendant for possessing racially inflammatory writings and for failing to answer the warden's questions about his membership in a militant group.The Second Circuit reversed and held: plaintiff's segregated confinement did not violate the eighth amendment. Indefinite punitive segregation is not unconstitutional per se. Continued violation of a prison rule, represents a credible threat to prison security and indefinite segregation is a proper disciplinary response. With the agreement, New York State became the largest prison system in the United States to prohibit the use of solitary confinement as a disciplinary measure against prisoners who are younger than 18. If the process is successful as anticipated, the expert recommendations agreed upon by both parties will be implemented, analyzed and memorialized in a final settlement agreement in two years. If the process fails, the NYCLU will resume litigation.
New YorkMcElvaine v. BrushCharles McElvaine was convicted of first-degree murder on October 23, 1889, a crime committed August 22, 1889, and on October 25, 1889, was sentenced to death. The Agent and Warden of the State decided that McElvaine would be held in solitary confiement until his execution date. McElvaine contended that the solitary confinement thus provided for constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, and brings the statute within the inhibition of the Eighth Amendment to the Federal Constitution.The Supreme Court rejected a direct 8th Amendment challenge to electrocution and solitary confinement by deferring to the New York legislature’s judgment. The provisions in the New York Code of Criminal Procedure, §§ 491, 492, respecting the solitary confinement of convicts condemned to death are not in conflict with the Constitution of the United States as they are construed by the Court of Appeals of that state.
New YorkParker et al. v. the City of New YorkRoy Parker, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, filed a class action Complaint against the City of New York, claiming that the New
York City Department of Corrections had violated the Constitution by holding pretrial detainees in solitary confinement or punitive segregation without providing them with due process and for no legitimate purpose.
New YorkOnondaga CountyV. W. v. ConwayRepresented by the New York Civil Liberties Union Foundation and Legal Services of Central New York, the plaintiffs challenged the isolation of juveniles in solitary confinement at the County Justice Center. This practice, they alleged, violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. In addition to exposing them to serious harm, plaintiffs subclass members claimed the Onondaga Sherriff’s Office and Syracuse City School District denied them of basic education and services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The plaintiffs sought declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief, as well as class action certification.Pending,33&as_vis=12016
New YorkA.T. v. HarderThis class-action civil-rights lawsuit challenges the solitary confinement of 16- and 17-year-olds, most of whom have not been convicted of any crime, at the Broome County Correctional Facility. The Broome County Sheriff’s Office has embraced the frequent and arbitrary use of solitary confinement, despite their knowlegde that these practices are exposing the young people held at the Jail to serious harm. Further, Sheriff’s Office officials also are denying juveniles basic educational services and denying students with disabilities access to special education supports and services.Pending. A federal judge filed a preliminary injunction in April 2018, ordering the Broome County Correctional Facility to stop solitary confinement of juveniles. In May 2018, the parties began settlement discussions. As of May 31, the parties had apparently circulated a proposed settlement agreement (though it was not available publicly), but not yet resolved the issue of attorneys' costs and fees. May 2018
North Carolina
North Dakota
OhioAustin v. WilkinsonOhio State Penitentiary is a maximum security facility, designed to house 504 male inmates in single-inmate cells. Ohio intended the OSP be "a location in the state that we can separate the most predatory and dangerous prisoners from the rest of the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's general population." The OSP carries out this goal primarily through solitary confinement — extended periods of incarceration in which the inmate is kept alone in his cell and has minimal contact with the outside world. The plaintiffs challenge the procedures the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction uses to select inmates for placement and retention at the OSP.  In a unanimous opinion delivered by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court held that the procedures by which the New Policy classified prisoners for placement at the facility provided sufficient protection to comply with the due process clause.
PennsylvaniaJohnson v. WetzelPlaintiff Arthur Johnson had been in the custody of the Pennsylvania Department of Correction since 1973, serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. For thirty-six years, the Department held Mr. Johnson in solitary confinement. Mr. Johnson initiated this cause to challenge his institutional exile as violative of the United States Constitution. He moved the court to compel the Department to: (1) stop his interminable isolation and (2) release him to general population.State ordered Johnson rejoin general population
PennsylvaniaReid et al. v. Wetzel et al.This class action challenges the policies and practices of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that hold death-sentenced prisoners in permanent solitary confinement until their capital sentence is overturned, or they die by execution or natural causes.Pending May 2018
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
TennesseeRutherford CountyFrazier v. HommichThis class action lawsuit challenges the unconstitutional treatment of juveniles placed into lengthy periods of solitary confinement under Tennessee’s juvenile justice system. At issue in this case is whether the government may lawfully place any child in solitary confinement for long periods of time for punitive or disciplinary reasons. Named Plaintiff John Doe is a child who was charged with and later adjudicated of offenses that render him delinquent under the laws of Tennessee. At each of the facilities, John Doe has been, is or will be subject to lengthy periods of solitary confinement for disciplinary or punitive reasons, specifically for breaking even minor rules of behavior such as touching the television.In March 2017, a judge granted a preliminary injunction to prevent the Rutherford County Juvenile Detention Center from putting any youth in punitive solitary confinement until the resolution of the litigation
TexasRuiz v. TexasPetitioner Rolando Ruiz has been on death row for 22 years, most of which he has spent in permanent solitary confinement. Mr. Ruiz argues that his execution “violates the Eighth Amendment” because it “follow[s] lengthy [death row] incarceration in traumatic conditions,” principally his “permanent solitary confinement.”Stay of execution denied
VirginiaSnodgrass v. GilbertKevin Snodgrass, Jr., a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the defendant prison officials at Red Onion State Prison are using a classification policy that has been repeatedly applied in such a way as to keep him in long-term segregation without due process. Defendants have filed an answer, denying his allegations that the policies have violated his constitutional rights.Dismissed
VirginiaPorter v. ClarkePlaintiffs Thomas Porter, Anthony Juniper, and Mark Lawlor—three inmates on Virginia’s death row—alleged that their conditions of confinement amounted to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.After Plaintiffs filed their complaint, Defendants Harold Clarke, Director of the Virginia Department of Corrections, and Darren Zook, Warden of Sussex I State Prison, substantially changed the policies governing the conditions of confinement for inmates on Virginia’s death row, addressing virtually all of the issues raised in Plaintiffs’ complaint. The district court concluded that Defendants’ changes to the challenged policies mooted Plaintiffs’ action.
VirginiaReyes v. Clarke et al.The ACLU of Virginia and the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Mr. Nicolas Reyes, a prisoner in Red Onion State Prison. Mr. Reyes has been held in solitary confinement for 12 and a half years. Mr. Reyes' conditions of confinement are especially isolating as he does not read or write English in a prison that does nothing to accommodate Spanish speakers. As a result of his monolingualism and the refusal of the prison to provide appropriate language services, or to accommodate people who cannot read or write and people who suffer from mental health issues, he has no meaningful access to the Step-Down Program - a program designed to provide inmates with opportunities to return to the general population of the prison.PendingSeptember 2018
VirginiaThorpe et al. v. Virginia Department of Corrections et al.Named Plaintiffs William Thorpe, Frederick Hammer, Dmitry Khavkin, Gerald McNabb, Gary Wall, Vernon Brooks, Brian Cavitt, Derek Cornelison, Christopher Cottrell,Peter Mukuria, Steven Riddick, and Kevin Snodgrass bring this action against the Virginia Department of Corrections(“VDOC”) and the individual defendants, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated.These men have been isolated in solitary confinement at Virginia’s twin maximum-security prisons, Red Onion andWallens Ridge State Prisons—and have remained in long-term solitary confinement for between two and 23 years.No Virginia sentencing statute or regulation requires VDOC toplacethese menin long-term solitary confinement based on their crimes or sentences. As a result of their long-term solitary confinement, the Named Plaintiffs have suffered severe physical and mental health damage, including weight loss, auditory and visual hallucinations, emotional distress, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, severe sensory deprivation, and suicidal thoughts.PendingMay 2019
West Virginia
WisconsinJ. J. et al v. Litscher, Jon et alThe ACLU of Wisconsin and Juvenile Law Center, with pro-bono assistance from Quarles & Brady, filed a class action lawsuit in federal court against four Wisconsin state officials, including Wisconsin Secretary of Corrections Jon E. Litscher, citing the unconstitutional use of solitary confinement and inhumane conditions for youth in state-run correctional facilities. The suit was filed on behalf of youth confined in the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and the Copper Lake School for Girls.SettledJune 2018