Thorpe et al. v. Virginia Department of Corrections et al. (United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania 2019).
This class-action lawsuit seeks to end the practice of solitary confinement in two Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) prisons. Filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Virginia in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the suit includes 12 plaintiffs that have been isolated at Virginia’s maximum-security Red Onion and Wallens Ridge State Prisons for between two and nearly twenty-four years, who the suit says have experienced “severe physical and mental health damage.” VDOC implemented a step-down program in 2012, intending to use “behavioral modification techniques to improve… behavior,” but the plaintiffs and ACLU of Virginia allege that the program is ineffective and that it is “nearly impossible for many to navigate the [program’s] labyrinth of requirements to be released into general population.” “The lawsuit seeks to end the Step-Down Program, close the solitary confinement units at Red Onion and Wallens Ridge, and appoint a special master to bring VDOC’s prisons into compliance,” as well as to award the plaintiffs compensatory damages.
Key words: solitary confinement, restrictive housing, segregation, administrative segregation, Virginia, Virginia Department of Corrections, litigation