Limiting Supermax solitary

By LANCE TAPLEY  |  October 8, 2009

Jealous hadn’t reviewed the Schatz bill, but he says, “The issue of solitary confinement is one of national concern,” adding that solitary is “frequently abused and overused.”

In the past few years the Corrections Department has promised Supermax reforms, but inmate Arthur Belanger Jr., interviewed at the prison, says the Supermax has seen “no changes,” except it’s cleaner. He has spent three years there out of five in prison. After one fist fight, he says, he was kept in the Supermax for a year.

“There’s always going to be guys trying to kill themselves,” he says of the repeated “cutting up” by inmates. He’s seen close to 50 Supermax prisoners cut themselves since 2005, he says.

Belanger, a convicted murderer, says he was celled near Sheldon Weinstein, who died in the Supermax in April after being beaten by other inmates while he was in the prison’s general population. Weinstein, a 64-year-old sex offender who suffered from severe diabetes, “was knocking on his door saying ‘Help me!’” Belanger recalls. A nurse checked his blood pressure, but “they didn’t do much for him.” He added, “you have nothing” in the Supermax. He says no investigator talked with him about Weinstein.


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