Symposium voices concern, highlights dangers of solitary confinement

By Jessie Levinson
The Daily Free Press
March 30, 2016

As part of a weeklong call to action on current solitary confinement laws in Massachusetts, Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts hosted a symposium on solitary confinement Thursday afternoon at the New England School of Law. The symposium consisted of two panels as well as a viewing of the new short film “Solitary Voices” in front of approximately 65 people.

PLS staff attorney Elizabeth Matos began the symposium by reading statistics on solitary confinement in Massachusetts, which is one of three states that allow prisoners to be held in solitary confinement for up to 10 years. Solitary confinement is when an inmate is placed into a cell that is 6 feet by 10 feet for 22 to 23 hours per day and has no human interaction, Matos said.

“We organized this week of action on solitary … to give people a voice, get people up to speed on the issues [and] help them understand the issues,” said PLS staff attorney Bonnie Tenneriello. “[We] encourage them to reach out to their legislators and begin to have a voice on this horrible policy that’s been tolerated for way too long.”

In an effort to spread awareness about solitary confinement, the first panel focused on its issues and effects.

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