TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Nearly two months after the Southern Poverty Law Center sued the Florida Department of Corrections for "widely overusing" solitary confinement in state prisons, the group has added new plaintiffs to the case.
The lawsuit, filed in early May, focused, in part, on five inmates who said they were put in solitary confinement for extended periods though they had been diagnosed with mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
This week, the lawsuit was amended to add two new plaintiffs, said Larry Hannan, a spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Department of Corrections is expected to be served by next week, he said.
Michelle Glady, a department spokeswoman, said the state won't comment until being served. But she said solitary confinement is used only when "absolutely necessary."
Added to the case were allegations from a legally blind man, who alleges he was placed in isolation for nearly eight years. He said he began cutting himself "to release the tension of being isolated all day every day."
Also incorporated into the case was Juan Espinosa, who the Southern Poverty Law Center said has a permanent loss of voice. He contends his body has deteriorated from stress and worrying that he will die, adding that he can't get medical care he needs while in isolation.