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Inmates sue prison system over solitary confinement policies

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BOSTON (AP) — Inmates in Massachusetts have filed a class action lawsuit challenging the state prison system’s solitary confinement policies.

The three inmates at MCI-Cedar Junction in Walpole — Emmitt Perry, Carlos Bastos and Soksoursdey Roeung — said in a lawsuit filed in state court last Friday that they’ve been subjected to a combined 23 years of solitary confinement in the prison’s disciplinary unit.

They argue the state Department of Correction is violating Massachusetts law by keeping them and other prisoners in the disciplinary unit for up to 10 years.

The inmates also complain they receive inadequate meals, have restricted access to the prison canteen, telephone calls and visits, and reside in “parking space-sized” cells for 23 hours a day most of the week.

Under a 2018 law, Massachusetts prisoners are limited to six-month stints in solitary confinement for disciplinary purposes. Inmates can only be detained in the unit longer than six months if it is determined they pose an unacceptable safety risk.

The Boston College Law School’s Civil Rights Clinic and the law firm of Holland & Knight filed the complaint in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston on behalf of the inmates.

A prisons spokesperson declined to comment, citing the agency’s policy of not commenting on pending or ongoing litigation.

In April, the department announced a two-year plan to phase out operations at the maximum security prison, citing falling incarceration rates and enormous maintenance costs at one of its oldest facilities.

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