Florida is an “outlier” in prison systems across the nation when it comes to the use of solitary confinement, according to a 90-page federal lawsuit filed Wednesday that alleges the state Department of Corrections is violating the constitutional rights of inmates.
Attorneys with the Southern Poverty Law Center named the state agency and Secretary Mark Inch as defendants in the lawsuit, which contends state prison officials “discriminate against people with disabilities in its use of isolation” and are “deliberately indifferent to the substantial risk of harm caused” by isolation policies.
Ruthie Michell, the mother of Angel Meddler, who has been in solitary confinement for a cumulative three years, choked up Wednesday at a news conference when she told reporters that her daughter is very depressed and suicidal living in a “cage.”
“She really is just going crazy there,” Mitchell said.
Florida’s prison system is “widely overusing” the practice of solitary confinement to manage inmates, sometimes locking them up in cells that are no bigger than a parking spaces over often-minor infractions, according to Shalini Goel Agarwal, a senior supervising attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center.