By Bill Rankin
The state Department of Corrections has agreed to improve prison conditions at a solitary confinement unit that one inspector found to have created some of the most psychologically traumatized inmates he’d ever encountered.
The agreement is part of a settlement reached in a lawsuit brought by inmates who served years in solitary in the 192-bed “special management unit” at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.
Under the settlement, inmates will not be held in the cells for more than two years, except under special circumstances, and will be allowed outside their cells for 4 hours each day.
And while the terms of the settlement apply to only to one prison, there are indications the changes could be used elsewhere.
“The settlement represents a change in culture for (the Department of Corrections) and a realization and an acknowledgement of the profound harms caused by long-term isolated confinement,” said Sarah Geraghty, one of the lawyers representing the inmates. “We … look forward to seeing similar reforms of other isolation units across the state.