Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

Minneapolis man details horrors of solitary confinement in Senate testimony

Author:

A former prison inmate traveled from Minneapolis to Washington, D.C., Tuesday, to detail for the Senate Judiciary Committee his harrowing experiences in solitary confinement, the Star Tribune reports.

Damon Thibodeaux, who has lived in the Twin Cities since 2012, spent 15 years in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in solitary confinement 23 hours a day. He was on death row after being convicted of the brutal rape and murder of a 14-year-old step-cousin that he did not commit, the paper says.

Thibodeaux was exonerated with DNA evidence in September 2012, the Washington Post said. The paper said he cracked at the end of a nine-hour interrogation and confessed to the crime despite his innocence.

The National Registry of Exonerations goes into Thibodeaux's case in great detail.

Thibodeaux's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee comes as states across the nation are considering or have implemented sweeping reforms on solitary confinement. Last week, New York State entered into a deal to limit the use of solitary confinement, the New York Times says.

The man, who was incarcerated in the facility known as the "Alcatraz of the South," said in written testimony that he saw "men lose their minds" and "some screamed all hours of the night." He said he was also subjected to triple-digit heat in the summer and was put on display like an animal during prison tours.

Thibodeaux, who earned his GED after being released from prison and works as a long-haul truck driver, says he still has trouble connecting with people.

Committee member Sen. Al Franken praised Thibodeaux during the hearing, saying he's turned his tragedy into "a story of hope and courage."

The Star Tribune says Minnesota had 578 prisoners in isolated segregation as of Tuesday. A spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Corrections says the use of segregation is an "issue of constant concern and review."

According to the paper, advocates say there are no reliable estimates of how many state and federal prisoners are in solitary confinement.

Next Up

D'Angelo Russell

D'Lo's late takeover helps Timberwolves win double-OT thriller

Russell caught fire to help the Timberwolves get back to .500.

Gopher Football

Gophers suffocate Badgers, reclaim Paul Bunyan's Axe

Minnesota picked up its first home win over the Badgers since 2003.

Meeker County Sheriff's Office

Boy, 6, run over after falling off trailer in Meeker Co. tree farm accident

He was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center with internal injuries.

Target store

Target unveils deals for 2-day 'Cyber Monday' event

The promotion kicks off Sunday, November 28.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 9.59.30 AM

Edina police warn of recent burglary trend targeting garages and vehicles

The Edina Police Department is increasing patrols in affected neighborhoods in response to the trend.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 9.03.06 AM

Charges: Man shot Uber Eats driver making a delivery in Cottage Grove

Otis Donnell Shipp was charged with second-degree attempted murder after turning himself in on Wednesday.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 7.36.14 AM

Waterfront hotel in Duluth sustains damage in kitchen fire

Authorities estimate the damage at around $75,000.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 7.15.18 AM

Large groups of thieves target 2 Twin Cities Best Buys on Black Friday

It bears similarities to the flash-mob style thefts seen recently in California.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Timberwolves' winning streak snapped at five games

The Wolves' bid for their longest winning streak since 2014 came up short.

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

Teen arrested over fatal shooting of 5-year-old boy in Brooklyn Park

Police say the teen was filming a social media video while handling a gun.

Joe Biden

President Biden coming to Minnesota to promote Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Tuesday's trip follows passage of the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.

Related

Minneapolis man accused in violent assault on toddler

A Minneapolis man faces first-degree assault charges stemming from allegations that he attacked his girlfriend's toddler. Eric Paul Boone, 22, is accused of beating the 21-month-old victim on Oct. 26 in Minneapolis. Investigators said the girl faces life as a possible quadriplegic and may need a permanent tracheotomy.