UPDATED 8:26 AM PT — Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Solitary confinement may become a thing of the past for some prisons in Virginia after a lawsuit is filed to eliminate the level of security all together. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the federal lawsuit on Monday, requesting the courts to put an end to the use of “long-term” solitary confinement in two of Virginia’s toughest prisons.
In the lawsuit, the ACLU alleged inmates in Red Onion State Prison and Wallens Ridge State Prison are facing “severe mental and physical damage” due to the practice. Additionally, some inmates have complained of suffering from hallucinations, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal thoughts as a result.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Corrections has pushed back on the allegations, saying inmates are being offered services and programs that will help them adapt back into everyday life.
For example, Red Onion Prison is now using officers as “treatment professionals,” who are looking to assist and understand those incarcerated. In addition to treatment officers, those in long-term restrictive housing also have access to books, phones, classes and out-of-cell recreation.
At least 12 inmates have pushed for the class-action lawsuit to be filed, and are hoping compensation will be granted to those who claim to have undergone emotional pain and suffering.