Right now in North Carolina, thousands of people are incarcerated in solitary confinement — held in prison cells no bigger than a parking spot and denied human contact, sunlight, and fresh air for 22 to 24 hours a day. Some have been there for months or years, often for breaking minor rules.

North Carolina’s use of solitary confinement is cruel, unnecessary, and does not lead to safer prison conditions.

That’s why we filed a lawsuit today with N.C. Prisoner Legal Services to challenge these unconstitutional practices on behalf of people who are suffering while being unjustly held in solitary. 

There is a clear medical consensus that solitary confinement is virtually guaranteed to inflict serious physical and psychological pain and create or exacerbate mental illness, doing nothing to rehabilitate people or prepare them to reenter society. Instead, they come out sick, angry, socially withdrawn, and even more likely to end up back in prison.

We are representing people who have been held in solitary confinement for more than a decade, who suffer from a series of mental and physical health problems, and have even attempted suicide to escape their near-constant psychological pain. People have died after being held in solitary confinement in North Carolina, including Michael Anthony Kerr, a 53-year-old former Army sergeant diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, who died of dehydration after spending 35 days in solitary confinement. Solitary confinement destroys people’s mental health, degrades their human dignity, and makes prison conditions all the more dangerous.

These practices must end, and that’s why we’re challenging them in court.