Prisoner in solitary confinement for 36 years seeks reprieve

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A Philadelphia man sentenced to life in prison for his role in a fatal 1970 gang fight is trying to win his release from solitary confinement, where he has been kept for more than 35 years.

Arthur Johnson, who is now 63, was accused of taking part in two escape attempts during his early years in prison. But his lawyers tell The Philadelphia Inquirer ( ) that he has had only three minor infractions in the past 25 years.

The Abolitionist Law Center says in a federal lawsuit that Johnson's treatment amounts to torture. It says he's never been told in writing why he's been in solitary since 1979.

Johnson is imprisoned in Frackville, about 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

Prison officials say that inmates in solitary typically have a history of assaults, sexual abuse or escape attempts.


Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer,