Solitary confinement prompts inmate to sue DOC

Failure to provide mental health care also alleged

An inmate is suing officials of the Department of Corrections for allegedly subjecting him to solitary confinement and isolation and failing to provide him adequate mental healthcare.

Jerry Ray is suing DOC Commissioner Vincent S. Attao, Corrections Division director Gregory Castro, acting commissioner Georgia M. Cabrera, pre-trial operations captain Pius P. Yaroitemal, operation commander David Deleon Guerrero, and classification officer Cynthia B. Santos.

Ray, through counsel Jeanne H. Rayphand of the Northern Marianas Protection & Advocacy Systems Inc., is suing them for allegedly subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment, and providing him inadequate mental health treatment.

In his lawsuit Friday before the U.S. District Court for the NMI, Ray asked the court to declare that these officials’ move to sanction him with administrative segregation, isolation, and solitary confinement, as well as the denial of his mental healthcare and treatment, constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

In both cases, he claims violation of the 8th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

He is demanding to be housed in an “open bay” area where he will not be isolated and subject to solitary confinement, and provide him with mental healthcare, including evaluations, treatment, medication, and counseling.

Ray demanded payment of $100 per day for his segregation, isolation, and solitary confinement from June 19, 2016, to June 27, 2017, and for the isolation and solitary confinement from June 27, 2017, to May 7, 2018.

He also demanded payment of damages for the denial of psychiatric mental healthcare.

He wants the court to direct DOC to craft a plan to address the mental healthcare of prisoners. Ray said the plan should include mental health and correctional staffing that shall be sufficient to provide prisoners with timely access to clinicians who can provide routine, urgent, emergency, and specialty mental healthcare such as on-site medical doctor, nurse, psychologist, and psychiatrist.

He said the other plan should include policies and practices that provide access to healthcare and screen for mental health conditions that need treatment.

Ray sought a plan for timely response to mental healthcare emergencies; timely prescription and distribution of medications and supplies necessary for medically adequate mental healthcare; and timely access to treatment for serious mental illness, including medication, therapy, inpatient treatment, and suicide prevention.

Ray, a habitual offender, has been a prisoner and inmate of DOC since 2012 after he was convicted of burglary.

According to Rayphand in the complaint, since Aug. 30, 2012, each and every alleged infraction of DOC rules, regardless of the facts, has resulted in Ray being sanctioned to the maximum, cell restriction, and isolation for the level of offense, plus restriction of all privileges such as no telephone calls except with attorney, no commissary privileges, no visitors, and only one hour of “fresh air.”

Rayphand said that, beginning Aug. 23, 2014, while held in POD 4 C of DOC, Ray suffered various physical injuries such as 3 1/2-inch cut over his right eye when hit while playing basketball, swollen right eye and bruises on right ear and left upper side of his head, multiple bruises after being beaten up by officers, and other injuries.

Raypand said defendants continued to hold Ray in POD 4 until June 27, 2017, with the exception on Feb. 10 to 12, 2017, when Ray was moved to POD 2 F.

The lawyer said while in POD 4 C, from July 19, 2016 through June 27, 2017, Ray was held in solitary confinement and administrative segregation, with full restrictions when out of cell and taken out of cell alone, with one hand secured at mealtimes and in leg irons during shower time.

Since Oct. 20, 2016, Ray allegedly requested his need for psychiatric evaluation and assistance, but was denied.

The denial, Rayphand said, has caused Ray to suffer anxiety, stress, deterioration of his mental health, and sanctions for behavior resulting from deteriorating mental health.

On Dec. 19, 2016, Ray asked to be taken out of full restraints, but a DOC official allegedly denied it.

On Feb. 14, 2017, Rayphand said, in spite of their knowledge that Ray was subjected to mental, verbal and physical abuse in POD 4, defendants moved him back into POD 4.

On April 24, 2017, NMPASI, on behalf of Ray, requested defendants’ assistance in addressing Ray’s need for psychiatric care.

On June 27, 2017, Ray was allegedly stressed and cut himself. That same day, the DOC counselor recommended that he be taken to the Commonwealth Health Center for psychiatric evaluation due to self-harm attempts, and having been identified with having hallucinations such as hearing voices.

Rayphand said when Ray was taken to CHC for psychiatric evaluation and assistance, he was “treated and released” because there was no psychiatrist.

Upon returning to DOC, Ray was allegedly moved to POD 2 E where he was held in isolation and solitary confinement from June 27, 2017, until May 7, 2018.

Rayphand said although Ray was more out-of-cell time since May 27, 2018, he remains subject to isolation and confinement in his cell and has requested that he be assigned to a cell in “open bay” to alleviate his anxiety and further deterioration of his mental health.

Since October 2016 up to the present time, Rayphand said, defendants have denied Ray’s requests.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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