Solitary Confinement

Filed - October 28, 2018

Gay v. State of Illinois

While held in solitary by the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) for nearly two decades, Anthony Gay’s severe mental illness worsened, and the extreme isolation without any significant treatment of his mental illness triggered horrific self-mutilation and a lengthy prison stay that amounted to torture. The state’s treatment of Anthony not only compounded his torture, but prolonged it and caused him to take erratic and irrational actions, which included cutting himself hundreds of times and lashing out at guards. Rather than provide obviously needed psychiatric care, the state pursued criminal charges against him, which extended his prison sentence for years, worsened his condition and violated his constitutional rights.

Anthony’s incarceration in IDOC dates back to the early 1990s when, as a teenager, he fought with another teenager who had insulted his sister. Anthony stole the other teen’s hat and a one dollar bill, which led to a guilty plea for robbery and being placed on probation. He later violated probation by driving a car without a license and was sent to IDOC to begin serving a prison sentence. He should have been released less than four years later, but his several diagnosed mental illnesses and harsh prison conditions caused him to act out. Prison officials sent him to solitary confinement. Anthony endured solitary conditions in some of the most notorious facilities in Illinois, including Pontiac, Menard and Tamms Supermax. His days in solitary were spent in overwhelming isolation with no meaningful human contact or access to programming.

On October 28, 2018, the MacArthur Justice Center joined with co-counsel Stephen H. Weil and Alexis G. Chardon at Weil & Chardon in Chicago, and Antonio Romanucci and Nicolette Ward with Romanucci & Blandin in Chicago, to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the State of Illinois; Wexford Health Services, a private company under contract to provide medical care to IDOC inmates; IDOC Director John Baldwin; and several employees of IDOC and Wexford. Our suit alleges violations of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

Anthony completed his prison sentences and was released on Aug. 27. Anthony is committed to ensuring that other people with mental illness do not have to endure the pain he suffered in solitary confinement. We are committed to helping him every step of the way.

Key Documents