Justice Dept. May Investigate Solitary Confinement in Va. Prisons

DOJ says it's aware of problems

Tuesday, Jul 10, 2012  |  Updated 8:44 AM EDT
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Va. Lawmakers Seek Solitary Confinement Investigation

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The Justice Department is considering a request to investigate Virginia's use of solitary confinement in state prisons. But no decision has been made.

Three Virginia lawmakers asked the department in March to investigate the practice. State Sen. Adam Ebbin and Delegates Patrick A. Hope and Charniele Herring said they're particularly concerned about inmates who have mental illnesses.

The Washington Post says the Justice Department responded in a letter last week that it's aware of the issue at "supermax" facilities such as Virginia's Red Onion State Prison. The department said its Special Litigation Section will determine whether an investigation is warranted.

Hope tells the newspaper that he's glad the Justice Department is taking the isolation of prisoners seriously. But he says actions speak louder than words.

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