Lawsuit Challenges Horrific Conditions at Pennsylvania Prison

The video for this lesson contains time sensitive information. Developments in the project discussed in the video which occurred after the release date are not covered in the video or this curriculum. See “Follow-Up Assignments” below for a way of addressing this fact in your lesson plan.

Lesson Title

Lawsuit Challenges Horrific Conditions at Pennsylvania Prison

Video title, link, and release Date

Lawsuit Challenges Horrific Conditions at Pennsylvania Prison, May 25, 2013

Video Length

Three minutes, Sixteen seconds.

Grade Level

High School


  • A lawsuit filed on March 11th by the National Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania and the American Civil Liberties Union v. the state of Pennsylvania has challenged the horrific conditions at Pennsylvania state prisons.
  • It is alleged that more than 800 prisoners are caged in restricted housing units for more than 23 hours per day in Pennsylvania prisons.
  • The lawsuit argues that these sorts of conditions lead to an endless cycle of isolation and punishment, preventing inmates from ever achieving parole.

  • It also accuses the state of Pennsylvania of violating the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

  • Due to these sorts of incidents, prison conditions have become a high priority on the minds of disability advocates over the past few years.

Review Questions:

1. About how large is the typical windowless isolation room?

2. Which amendment is cited in the lawsuit’s argument?

3. What type of disabilities is this story primarily dealing with? Physical or mental?

Freewriting “Journal” Prompt:

What about this report do you have questions about?

Why do you think people with mental disabilities end up being treated as inferior in prisons?

What do you want to know more about?

Will is the editor for the Galaxy Awareness and History pages as well as one of our pollsters. He is a sophomore at Seattle University majoring in philosophy. His home is La Crosse Wisconsin.