People who are incarcerated are protected against cruel and unusual punishment according to the Constitution. Individuals in jail or prison must receive life’s basic necessities—such as food, shelter, and medical care.
However, officials at Miami Correctional Facility are consistently failing to meet these needs. The ACLU of Indiana has filed twenty-one lawsuits since July against this one facility, as men have shared horrifying stories about the isolation unit.
The brutal and dangerous conditions that men are living in shock the conscience and violate the Constitution.
This is a pattern of cruel and unusual punishment practiced inside the facility's restrictive housing unit, but it is also a pattern inside the incarceration system across the country, in which individuals and their rights are seen as expendable.
Imagine being trapped in a small, pitch-dark room for 50 days, or longer.
Imagine that in this room, every time you attempted to move in the darkness, you were subject to painful shocks by live electrical wires. Electrocuted in the arm, hand, head, or even the eye.
Imagine you are only able to leave this room for only 15 minutes at a time, a few times a week.
These are the conditions these men are living in. This is torture.
Imagine that the window in this room is broken, with temperatures plummeting to 30-some degrees at night, with snow and rain entering the cell. It’s painfully cold.
Imagine how your mental health might decline.
The men in these conditions face serious psychological problems including hallucinations, anxiety and suicidal thoughts which at times have led to self-harm.
This is torture.
The United States Constitution requires that the safety of people who are incarcerated be protected. These men have been living in prolonged, isolated darkness, and prison officials subjected them to these brutal conditions knowing full well the pain and trauma they were inflicting.
Places of detention are inherently closed environments, but external oversight is critical to guard against mistreatment and abuse. Far too many prisoners are held in conditions that threaten their health, safety, and human dignity.
The ACLU of Indiana has long fought in the courts for the protection of these individuals’ rights and we aren’t backing down.
This must end in the Miami Correctional Facility. It must end in Indiana. And it must end across the country.