A Pennsylvania inmate who spent 37 years in solitary confinement has been awarded $325,000 in a settlement, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Arthur Johnson of Philadelphia, who spent more than half his life in solitary confinement, filed a lawsuit claiming that his 37 years spent alone in a small cell amounted to cruel and unusual punishment and violated his right to due process.
Johnson was released back into the general prison over a year ago, after a U.S. district court judge ordered his reintegration in late 2016. Johnson is housed in State Correctional Institution Greene.
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“It has been a big adjustment,” said Bret Grote, Johnson’s attorney. “Being surrounded by so many people in the yard, in the cafeteria.
“Issues like wanting to self-isolate, dealing with anxiety and despair, they remain with everybody I’ve known who’ve been in 20 or 30 years,” Grote continued.
Johnson had no meaningful physical contact with another person since 1979. He was not allowed any contact visits and spent at least 23 hours a day locked up in his cell, according to the article.
Johnson, who is serving a life sentence for a gang-related murder, had several attempted escapes in the 1970s and 1980s. This led to him being placed in solitary confinement. Johnson has remained free of any serious infraction since 1987. In court documents he has been described as a “model inmate” by a deputy superintendent.
As part of the settlement, the state agreed to move Johnson to an institution closer to his family and not to return him to solitary confinement for his past offenses.