HRC released a report last week describing Pennsylvania prisoners’ individual and group resistance to conditions of confinement at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Dallas. Resistance and Retaliation: Continued Repression at SCI Dallas follows a group of prisoners facing severe retaliation and abuse by Department of Corrections officials for contacting outside organizations about their current living conditions. The report highlights the tense and violent guard/prisoner dynamics in Pennsylvania’s solitary confinement units, cites policy and procedural issues that create those conditions, and makes recommendations for working on the problem.
The report is a follow-up to the Human Rights Coalition’s April 2010 release Institutionalized Cruelty: Torture at SCI Dallas and in Prisons Throughout Pennsylvania, which documented the experiences of prisoners across Pennsylvania being subjected to arbitrary and indefinite placement in solitary confinement, physical abuse by guards, inadequate or non-existent medical and mental health care, substandard and unhygienic environmental conditions, racism, and sexual violence.
The report comes a week after Rep. Ronald Waters announced that he is planning to introduce legislation to prevent using solitary confinement for mentally ill inmates and limit the maximum solitary confinement period for all other inmates to 45 days. Rep. Ronald Waters and Rep. Thomas Caltagirone held a House Judiciary Committee meeting on August 2nd in Yeadon Borough, PA, where formerly incarcerated people testified to their experiences in solitary confinement. Michael Klopotoski, Deputy Secretary of the Eastern Region also testified, though he provided no evidence in support of the Department of Corrections allegations that solitary confinement is a necessary and fair practice.
This year, the Department of Corrections will receive 46 million dollars from the Capital Facilities Fund to begin construction of 4 new prisons in Pennsylvania. The estimated total project cost, already underway in Benner Township, is 862 million dollars. The new facilities will increase the state’s bed capacity by 9,000 inmates.
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Resistance and Repression: