Action on behalf of Hunger Strike at SCI Somerset in non-violent protest of solitary confinement ("Restricted Release List")

From: Human Rights Coalition:

DeWayne Housely #EG6671 has entered day 6 of a hunger strike begun on Thursday, February 10th, in protest of his being held in solitary confinement for more than two years. Mr. Housely is currently being held on the Restricted Release List, an indefinite form of solitary confinement that that can only be lifted by the Secretary of the PA DOC. In December of 2008, Mr. Housely received a misconduct for which he served 90 days. Afterward he was kept in solitary and has not been provided access to programs or told what he can do to re-enter general population.

Medical staff informed family that the prison will seek to obtain a court order to force feed DeWayne if he does not end the hunger strike.

Take action to support DeWayne’s non-violent protest against permanent solitary confinement torture by calling SCI Somerset and the PA DOC Central Office and telling them to address Mr. Housely’s grievances.

Call 814-443-8100 to reach SCI Somerset and ask for Superintendent Rozum and his assistant Heidi Sroka.

Call 717-975-4918 to reach new Secretary of the PA DOC John Wetzel’s office.

Tell Somerset and Central Office that you are concerned for Mr. Housely’s mental and physical health and that you want the administration to review his status of indefinite solitary confinement and provide a path to general population.

Indefinite solitary and force feeding are acts of torture, and by raising our voices we can push the prison to end their abusive treatment of DeWayne. Please take five minutes from your day and make these calls, they do make a difference.

More details about this “Restricted Release List”:

SCI Somerset: A prisoner at SCI Somerset has begun a hunger strike in protest of his prolonged solitary confinement.

DeWayne Housely was placed in solitary at SCI Cresson in December of 2008 after a fight with another prisoner during which a guard was inadvertently struck. After he served 90 days in solitary for the fight he was transferred to SCI Coal Township, where he continued to be held in solitary despite his misconduct time having been served. Sometime in the Spring or Summer of 2009 he was placed on the Restricted Release List, which is a form of indefinite, potentially permanent, solitary confinement that can only be lifted by the Secretary of the DOC.

Prisoners are not given an opportunity to challenge their placement on this list, and are often not told they are on the list until weeks or months afterwards. Prisoners on this list are not provided an opportunity to work their way back into general population through good behavior or completion of programs.

There are more than 80 prisoners currently held on the Restricted Release List. An investigation by HRC into the Restricted Release List found the following:

Of the 24 respondents to the HRC survey, 20 are people of color and only 4 are white.

At least 19 of those on the list have filed lawsuits in the past against DOC employees and officials for civil rights violations.

Psych staff visits these individuals for a cursory review approximately once every 30 days, despite the clinical consensus on the devastating psychological effects of solitary confinement.

Certain individuals on the RRL have been held as long as 4, 5, 6.5, 8, 9, 10, 13, 17, and 37 straight years in solitary confinement.

The DOC refuses to release to the public the names of people on the Restricted Release List, essentially claiming the right to hold its prisoners in permanent solitary confinement without any form of public scrutiny or accountability.

Human rights supporters are encouraged to call SCI Somerset at 814-443-8100 and voice your concern over the prolonged and unjustifiable treatment of DeWayne Housely. Tell the Superintendent that you expect Mr. Housely’s rights to be respected, his grievances addressed, and that his continued status on the Restricted Release List be subject to a review that provides him clear criteria for re-entering the general population.

(from: HRC)