Lawsuit challenges North Carolina prison system's use of solitary confinement

WTVD logo
Wednesday, October 16, 2019

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A new lawsuit is challenging the state's prison system's use of solitary confinement, calling it a violation of the state's ban on cruel or unusual punishment.

The North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services (NCLPS) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina filed the legal challenge in state Superior Court on behalf of four men who spent years locked in solitary confinement in the state.

"Solitary confinement is a cruel and unnecessary practice that destroys people's mental health, degrades their human dignity, and makes prison conditions all the more dangerous," said Dan Siegel, a staff attorney for NCPLS. "Prison officials should use solitary confinement only as a last resort, and for the shortest duration possible, when there is no other option to address an imminent safety threat. But today in North Carolina, thousands of people are confined in tiny cells and denied human contact, sunlight, and fresh air for 22 to 24 hours a day for offenses as minor as using profanity. These policies must end."

The ACLU claims that "solitary confinement is virtually guaranteed to inflict serious pain and create or exacerbate mental illness."

The lawsuit also claims that some prisoners are placed in solitary confinement or non-violent infractions like lying to prison staff and possessing a cellphone.

Read the lawsuit here.