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May 11, 2018

Following news report that Kevin D. Snodgrass Jr., an inmate at Red Onion State Prison (ROSP), was put back in solitary confinement hours after his mother, Kimberly J. Snodgrass, appeared at the ACLU of Virginia's press conference to stop solitary confinement and spoke out against the inhumane treatment of inmates at ROSP, the ACLU of Virginia sent a letter to Virginia Department of Corrections Director Harold W. Clarke to raise concern about the incident and request immediate actions to secure Mr. Snodgrass from harm.

"As you know, Mr. Snodgrass had been housed in solitary confinement at Red Onion for four years, until he completed the Department’s much publicized “Step Down” program and was released to the general population," wrote the letter. "Yesterday afternoon, May 10th, according to information we have received, Mr. Snodgrass was in the cell he currently shares with another person when the individual housed in the next cell kicked on the door to that nextdoor cell. We have been told that correctional officers entered Mr. Snodgrass’ cell claiming that he was the person kicking his cell door asserting risibly that he was trying to escape. We further understand that the correctional officers threw Mr. Snodgrass against a wall injuring his eye, and broke his TV and the charger to his MP3 player, and that Mr. Snodgrass was shackled and moved from his shared cell to a single cell with only his underwear and bed clothes. It has also been reported to us that, during the incident, the correctional officers involved referred to his mother’s participation in a press conference that morning (the morning of May 10th) announcing the publication of the ACLU of Virginia’s report on the use of solitary confinement in Virginia correctional facilities and threatened him with long-term solitary confinement."

"The action taken by correctional officers against Mr. Snodgrass yesterday would appear to be part of a pattern and practice of retaliatory conduct by Red Onion employees taken against Mr. Snodgrass because of his exercise of his First Amendment rights to file grievances and petition the courts for redress of the unconstitutional conditions of his confinement."

The letter further requested the Virginia Department of Corrections to take several actions to secure Mr. Snodgrass from harm, including:

  1. The Department must convene an independent investigation of Mr. Snodgrass’ treatment by correctional officials at Red Onion State Prison;
  2. The Department must transfer Mr. Snodgrass immediately out of solitary confinement (“temporary detention”) at Red Onion to the general population at another facility (we understand that his security level before the incident on May10 would permit his transfer to Sussex I);
  3. The Department must act to ensure that Mr. Snodgrass is not subject to any further retaliatory action by employees at Red Onion or at the new facility where he is transferred;
  4. The Department must take all reasonable steps to preserve any and all evidence potentially relevant to Mr. Snodgrass’ claims arising out of the May 10 incident, including all documents, tangible things (including his broken electronic equipment), photographs, and electronically stored video, information and data. Included in this demand are all employees and contractors of the Department whether located at Red Onion State Prison or elsewhere. In addition, we request that the Department take photographs of Mr. Snodgrass’s face and body today so that evidence of any injuries can be preserved.

The full letter can be viewed here

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