Solitary confinement occurs when a correctional facility places an incarcerated person in isolation. Many correctional facilities maintain that solitary confinement and isolation are necessary to keep prisoners safe. The overuse of unjust solitary confinement can be tortuous and cause devastating psychological impacts. Rikers Island and other New York correctional facilities have a track record of violating inmates’ civil rights.
If you or your loved one have been the victim of unjust solitary confinement in New York, you may have a legal claim for compensation. Prisoners have a constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Westchester human rights attorney Michael LoGiudice has a proven track record of successfully fighting for inmates who’ve been the victims of unjust and inhumane conditions. Contact Michael LoGiudice, LLP, as soon as possible to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more about how we can advocate for you.
Lawyer For Unjust Solitary Confinement in New York Jails
In New York, the inhumane conditions at Rikers Island and other correctional facilities have come to light recently. In 2022, at least 13 inmates being held at Rikers Island or recently released from the prison complex have died. In 2021, at least 16 inmates in New York City jails died, the most since 2013. an increase in inmate deaths has led New York City’s legislative body to propose legislation to make conditions more Humane for inmates.
Part of that legislation would include prohibiting inmates from unjust solitary confinement. Specifically, the legislation would prohibit inmates from being placed in solitary confinement for more than two hours during the day in a 24-hour period or for more than eight hours at night. Additionally, mental health professionals must interact with inmates at least once an hour with frequent medical checks.
Cruel Isolation Practices Continue to Occur in New York
Last year the Board of Corrections for New York City voted to end solitary confinement. Inmates stated they’d been isolated and confined to their cells for 23 hours daily. Isolation can be incredibly dangerous for prisoners. An inmate named Elijah Muhammed was the 10th inmate to die in 2022. He allegedly spent more than 32 hours in isolation before he died. He was also placed in solitary confinement in a shower stall for 6 and 1/2 hours after a confrontation with jail staff.
Why Is Isolation So Dangerous For Prisoners?
Despite the Board of Corrections voting to prohibit unjust solitary confinement practices, some prisoners are still subjected to this cruel practice. Unfortunately, inmates have stated that this inhumane practice is still being done in New York City prisons. Recent research has shown the extensive scope of solitary confinement’s harmful impacts on incarcerated people, their families, and correction facility staff. Unjust solitary confinement can also cause prisoners developmental illness, exacerbating existing challenges and leading to severe psychological damage. When prisoners are placed in solitary confinement, they experience sensory deprivation and are forced to be idle.
These factors, combined with social isolation, can be a dangerous combination. Solitary confinement can even lead to an inmate’s premature death. The rate of suicide for inmates who were subjected to solitary confinement is five times higher than the general prison population. Inmates who are released after being subjected to solitary confinement may continue to struggle to live productive lives due to the negative impact of solitary confinement on their physical and mental well-being.
Protecting the Constitutional Rights of Inmates
Inmates in correctional facilities have constitutional rights under federal law. Specifically, inmates are protected from cruel and unusual punishments under the Constitution’s 8th amendment. The prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment protects inmates from abusive environments, including being isolated from people for significant lengths of time.
Inmate abuse, including unjust solitary confinement, can constitute a civil rights violation. You may have legal grounds to bring a civil rights lawsuit against the correctional facility and municipality responsible for your injuries. Researchers are becoming more aware of how lengthy solitary confinement can seriously negatively affect an inmate’s physical and mental health. As a result, we’ve seen increased civil rights lawsuits against correctional facilities for unjust solitary confinement.
Pursuing Justice After Unjust Solitary Confinement
If you feel that you have been subjected to solitary confinement and it has harmed you significantly, it’s crucial that you discuss your case with an attorney. You may have a right to protect your constitutional rights by pursuing legal recourse. As the victim of prison abuse, you may have a right to file a legal complaint with the correctional facility, file a federal civil rights lawsuit in a federal district court, or file a civil rights lawsuit in a New York state court.
Plaintiffs in a civil rights lawsuit can pursue two types of remedies. First, you can pursue injunctive relief in which a judge orders the correctional facility to stop placing you in solitary confinement. You can also pursue monetary damages for the following types of expenses related to your injuries:
- Medical expenses, including mental health treatment
- Pain and suffering
- Violated civil rights, including presumed damages
- Punitive damages are meant to punish the prison facility for intentional wrongdoing
To recover compensation, you will need to overcome the government’s qualified immunity defense that protects municipalities from conduct they engage in while on the job. Gathering evidence from the Department of Corrections can take time and effort. Prison officials may try to prevent inmates from gathering damaging evidence. An attorney can also help you navigate the procedural obstacles of pursuing a civil rights lawsuit.
Discuss Your Case with a Skilled Inmate’s Rights Attorney
Attorney Michael LoGiudice is committed to advocating for current and former inmates who’ve endured needless pain, suffering, and injuries due to unjust solitary confinement in New York. When you work with Michael LoGiudice, he will carefully investigate your case and help you understand your legal actions. An experienced litigator, he knows how to hold correctional facilities and responsible municipalities accountable for their unlawful actions. Contact Michael LoGiudice as soon as possible to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation.