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PA Judge Orders Immediate Release of Arthur Johnson from Solitary Confinement

HeadlineSep 21, 2016

In a landmark ruling, a federal judge in Pennsylvania has ordered the immediate release of a prisoner from long-term solitary confinement. Arthur “Cetewayo” Johnson has not touched another human other than a guard since 1979. He is challenging his conditions as cruel and unusual. He described his isolation in a statement for the court, saying: “During my over 36 years in solitary confinement, my cell has been about 7 feet by 12 feet, smaller than many cages used to hold animals at zoos. … [M]y cell has been lighted 24-hours per day, with no break during day or night. … I have been allowed at most one hour of time outside, five days a week, in a fenced-in exercise cage that is slightly larger than my cell. … I have been forced to eat all of my meals alone in my cell. Each time I leave my cell I am forced to undergo a mandatory strip-search. … I have not been accused of any serious disciplinary infraction in more than 25 years.” On Tuesday, Judge Christopher Conner called for a plan within a week to reintegrate Johnson into general population in 90 days. Johnson was convicted of homicide and sentenced to life without parole at age 18. He is now 64. While behind bars, he became politicized though the Black Liberation Movement. His case is handled by the Abolitionist Law Center and Jones Day law firm.

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