One of the isolation cells allegedly contained low-hanging wires, which would sporadically shock inmates attempting to navigate the darkness.
Six Indiana inmates kept in solitary confinement in Miami Correctional Facility have filed separate lawsuits against the prison and the state Department of Corrections, claiming they had been kept in dark, dangerous conditions for months on end.
According to The Pharos Tribune, the lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indian on behalf of inmates William Anderson, Charles Lyons, Anthony Parish, Jeremy Blanchard, Gerald Reed, and Jeffrey Wagner.
Collectively, the prisoners claim that they were all placed in an isolation cell or cells within Miami Correctional Facility’s more restrictive housing unit. Guards had allegedly covered the unit’s only window with sheet metal, and never bothered repairing the only artificial light source inside the cell.
The inmates say they spent months in near-total darkness.
On top of that, they claim to have been occasionally electrocuted by the unrepaired light fixture. They were also cut by shards of broken glass from the window, and were vulnerable to extreme temperatures from outside.
The lawsuits assert that the prisoners were subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.
Wagoner’s complaint, for instance, recalls how he spent nearly two months inside a pitch-black cell. He was released only once every five days to shower. Whenever he moved, he risked being shocked by low-hanging wires.
“Live electrical wires hung from the ceiling and on a number of occasions, he received painful shocks as he tried to navigate in his dark cell,” Wagoner’s suit says.
Yahoo! News notes that Wagoner’s complaint suggests that the poor conditions in the isolation cell were intended to punish prisoners.
Over time, he began experiencing anxiety attacks and auditory hallucinations—some of which urged him to harm himself.
“Placing a person in prolonged, isolated darkness for an extended period of time is a form of torture,” the American Civil Liberties Union wrote in the lawsuit.
While Miami Correctional officials appear to have been aware of what was happening within the isolation unit, they did nothing to address inmates’ complaints.
Kenneth Falk, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Indiana chapter, said that Miami Correctional failed to fulfil inmates’ most basic needs.
“Imagine being trapped in a small, dark room, where you were subject to being shocked by live electrical wires every time you attempted to move,” Falk said. “We wouldn’t tolerate animals being held in such horrifying conditions; how can we tolerate them for people?”
Insider notes that a spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Corrections declined the outlet’s request for comment.