Elderly, disabled woman held in long-term solitary confinement in NM prison 

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Press Release From The New Mexico Prison & Jail Project

A severely disabled woman was confined in an isolated cell in a prison in Grants, New Mexico for nearly a year without adequate medical care 

Irene Archer entered a women’s prison in Grants, New Mexico using a walker. She had severe disabilities, including severe spinal issues, making it impossible for her to do most basic life activities without assistance. Instead of providing her with adequate medical care, the prison placed her in a dirty, disgusting solitary confinement cell for almost a year. 

“The irony is that a judge had ordered Irene to be transferred to the prison so she could receive adequate medical attention,” said Steven Robert Allen, Director of the New Mexico Prison & Jail Project, which just filed a civil rights lawsuit on Ms. Archer’s behalf. “The prison even has a medical unit to provide specialized care to people like Irene. Instead of giving her help, they locked her in a dirty cell to suffer alone for almost a year.” 

Numerous witnesses have confirmed that Irene was severely mistreated during her time at the prison. For months at a time, Ms. Archer’s only significant social interactions came from communicating to other inmates through a vent in her solitary confinement cell. Some of the other women read the bible to her, or sang songs to her through the vent, in an attempt to give her some relief from her despair. 

“Unfortunately,” said Allen, “we know of many women in addition to Irene with serious medical needs who have been placed in isolated cells for long periods at that prison instead of receiving even a bare minimum of care. A solitary confinement cell is a horrific place to house anyone for an extended period, but it’s an especially inappropriate place to house someone with Irene’s specialized needs.” 

The New Mexico Prison & Jail project has filed a complaint on Ms. Archer’s behalf in federal court asserting that Defendants violated Ms. Archer’s rights under the U.S. Constitution and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Due to technical issues, the complaint will be attached or linked to this publication of the press release at a later time.

Contact the New Mexico Prison and Jail Project if needed before The Candle can create the link successfully.

Contact: Steven Robert Allen, at the New Mexico Prison and Jail Project (505) 610-4790 (cell), [email protected]