In Allegheny County Jail, pregnant inmates have been held in solitary confinement for infractions such as having one too many pairs of shoes

December 23, 2016 | Matt Stroud | Medium

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, along with The Abolitionist Law Center, PA Institutional Law Project, and Reed Smith filed a lawsuit on behalf of five pregnant women who spent as many as 22 days in ACJ’s Disciplinary Housing Unit for transgressions such as storing envelopes in a library book, and possessing three pairs of shoes instead of two. One of the women named in the lawsuit told Rewire that she was placed into the DHU — a euphemism the county uses for solitary confinement — because she kept her physician-prescribed medications in her cell, apparently against the jail’s policy. Once in the hole, she said she felt “like I was going to be in there forever.” When she filed a written grievance with the warden about being placed into solitary, she noted that she was going through a high-risk pregnancy — a detail that one would imagine the jail’s primary overseer might take seriously. A reply was scribbled at the bottom of the form: “If this is a problem don’t come to jail.”

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Prison Project points to abuse at USP

December 1, 2016 | Matt Farrand | Standard-Journal

Allegations of abuse at USP Lewisburg are still a common occurrence since the new security protocols were instilled in 2009.  The prison uses hard restraints that cut off the inmates' circulation as well as other unnecessary punishments.  David Sprout, a paralegal and member of the Lewisburg Prison Project, believes that some of the actions of the penitentiary can be seen as torture.

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NPR report thrusts Lewisburg Penitentiary into national conversation on prison reform

November 1, 2016 | Marcia Moore | The Daily Item

A joint National Public Radio and Marshall Project report on alleged abuse of inmates inside the U.S. Penitentiary at Lewisburg is prompting members of an interfaith organization against torture to call on the U.S. Attorney General’s Office to investigate.

“We are gravely concerned about this,” said the Rev. Laura Markle Downton, director of U.S. prisons policy and program at the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

The NPR/Marshall Project report, “Inside Lewisburg Prison: A choice between a violent cellmate or shackles” includes claims The Daily Item has written about for years regarding inmate allegations of mistreatment at the federal prison since it was converted in 2009 into a Special Management Unit (SMU).

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Inside Lewisburg Prison: A Choice Between A Violent Cellmate Or Shackles

October 26, 2016 | Josh Shapiro | National Public Radio: All Things Considered

Listen to the NPR radio news report here →

28 Days in Chains

October 26, 2016 | Christie Thompson and Josh Shapiro | The Marshall Project

In this federal prison, inmates have a choice: live with a violent cellmate or end up in shackles.

On Feb. 3, 2011, corrections officers at Lewisburg federal penitentiary in rural Pennsylvania arrived outside Sebastian Richardson’s cell door. With them was a man looking agitated and rocking back and forth. He stared down at Richardson, who at 4 feet, 11 inches was nicknamed “Bam Bam.”

The man, officers told Richardson, was his new cellmate. The two would spend nearly 24 hours a day celled together in a concrete room smaller than a parking space.

Richardson, 51, didn’t know his new cellmate’s name, only that he also went by a nickname: "The Prophet." He had a habit of screaming songs or shouting the spelling of words for hours, as though competing in his own private spelling bee. There were also rumors that he had assaulted more than 20 previous “cellies.”

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Prisoners With Hep C Get Cured In Some States But Not Others

October 13, 2016 | Anne Maria Barry-Jester | FiveThirtyEight

Salvatore Chimenti already had advanced liver damage from the hepatitis C virus when he filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections in the summer of 2015. He wanted access to new and expensive drugs that cure the virus in 90 percent or more of people who take them. Because he is an inmate, when the DOC denied him the medication, the only way Chimenti could potentially get it was to sue. “When you’re in prison, you have no other option, this is your only medical provider. You cannot get a second opinion; you can’t pay for it yourself. You are completely under the control of the Department of Corrections and their medical provider,” said Su Ming Yeh, an attorney with the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project who is representing Chimenti in a class-action lawsuit.

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High Cost of New Hepatitis C Drugs Strains Prison Budgets, Locks Many Out of Cure

September 12, 2016 | Peter Loftus and Gary Fields | The Wall Street Journal

GRATERFORD, Pa.—David Maldonado, an inmate at a Pennsylvania state prison, is one of thousands of convicted criminals with hepatitis C, an infectious disease that is one of the country’s biggest killers. Powerful new drugs on the market could help Mr. Maldonado and cut the chances of it spreading outside prison walls.

The medicines, however, are so expensive, and the problem so widespread, that to treat all sufferers would blow up most prison budgets. List prices for the newer drugs range from $54,000 to $94,000 a person for a typical 12-week course.

Pennsylvania’s corrections department has given the drugs to inmates at high risk of developing liver problems and with low blood-platelet levels. Mr. Maldonado isn’t among them, because his disease isn’t advanced enough to meet the department’s criteria, and he has sued seeking treatment.

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Mumia Abu Jamal Denied Critical Meds In Prison, Supporters Rally

September 9, 2016 | CBS Philly | Cherri Gregg

Members of MOVE rallied outside of the Philadelphia Department of Health to protest a recent federal court ruling denying critical Hepatitis C treatment for former death row inmate Mumia Abu Jamal. The ruling raises questions about inmate care.

“Nobody is immune to this kind of travesty of justice,” says Romona Africa, communications director for the MOVE Organization.

She joined concerned family and friends of Mumia Abu Jamal on Wednesday morning in a rally and press conference. The demonstration was made days after a federal district court judge denied Jamal access to critical treatment for his Hepatitis C.

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