In a twenty-four-page report, "Red Onion State Prison: Super-Maximum Security Confinement in Virginia," Human Rights Watch documents the unnecessary and abusive use of physical force at the prison.

In a twenty-four-page report, "Red Onion State Prison: Super-Maximum Security Confinement in Virginia," Human Rights Watch documents the unnecessary and abusive use of physical force at the prison. Staff have fired at inmates with shotguns for misconduct that should have been handled by unarmed staff. They have also shocked inmates with electronic stun devices.

"The extraodinarily harsh and restrictive conditions at Red Onion were designed for very violent inmates," said Jamie Fellner, associate counsel at Human Rights Watch. "Unable to find enough `worst of the worst,' the Virginia Department of Corrections is simply sending men to the prison who could be safely confined elsewhere."

The New York-based group, which has investigated prison conditions all over the world, also criticized the Department of Corrections' refusal to grant it access to Red Onion.

"It seems clear why the Department doesn't like outside scrutiny," stated Fellner. "What's going on at Red Onion is a discredit to the state." Fellner noted that inmates are locked twenty hours a day, or more, in their cells and denied reasonable prison programs.

Human Rights Watch called for independent review of use of force policies and incidents at the prison. It also called for prohibition on placing inmates at the facility if they could be safely housed at less secure facilities.