No On-Off Switch: The Problem of 24-Hour Prison Lighting

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Inmates assigned to the Segregation Management Unit (SMU) at the Airway Heights Correc­tional Center (AHCC) near Spokane are confined to cells that are constantly illuminated by overhead fluorescent lighting. Tests conducted by AHCC personnel show that the intensity of this lighting at bunk level is at least 10 foot-candles, which is roughly equal to the brightness of 10 lit candles a foot away from one's eyes.

Numerous AHCC inmates confined to the SMU have complained to prison officials that this constant lighting prevents sleeping, causes severe headaches and makes it difficult to tell night from day. In a recent issue of the King County Bar Association Bar News, Stoel Rives attorney Hunter Ferguson discusses one such complaint that is currently the subject of a pending Ninth Circuit appeal.

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"No On-Off Switch: The Problem of 24-Hour Prison Lighting" was the lead article in the February 2013 issue of the King County Bar Association Bar News.

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Hunter Ferguson
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