Case Name: Dewalt et al v. Hooks et al
The ACLU of North Carolina and North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services are representing four people who have spent years locked in solitary confinement in North Carolina prisons in a class-action lawsuit. We are challenging the state’s use of the practice in state Superior Court as a violation of the state constitution’s ban on cruel or unusual punishment.
Approximately 3,000 people were being held in some form of solitary confinement in North Carolina as of July 2019, hundreds for periods of months or years. 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, and should only be used as a last resort, for the shortest duration possible, and when there is no other option to address an imminent safety threat.
One of the plaintiffs named in the lawsuit, Rocky Dewalt, suffers from several mental health disorders and routinely experiences anxiety, depression, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts. He has been held in solitary confinement for more than 12 years. Another plaintiff, Robert Parham, is a wheelchair-bound 58-year-old with a long history of mental and physical health problems. He has spent nearly a decade in solitary confinement. The third, Anthony McGree, has lived in solitary confinement since April 2018 and attempted suicide several times to escape his near-constant psychological pain. The fourth, Shawn Bonnett, was recently placed back in solitary for non-violent rules infractions after previously spending nearly a decade in solitary confinement.