PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island civil rights organizations have sued the state's Department of Corrections on behalf of a man who alleges his rights were violated when he was held in solitary confinement for eight months as punishment for his complaints about prison conditions.

The Rhode Island Center for Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island sued the state's corrections director and other prison administrators at the behest of Joseph Shepard, 28, on Monday, The Providence Journal reported.

In the lawsuit, Shepard alleges that his constitutional rights to free speech and due process were violated when prison administrators put him in solitary confinement in retaliation for raising concerns about prison conditions.

A spokesperson for the Department of Corrections said the state disagreed that Shepard had served time in solitary confinement because the prison system “does not practice solitary confinement, as we have stated on the record numerous times."

Shepard claimed in the lawsuit that he brought concerns about prison conditions to administrators but was told to follow the formal grievance procedure.

In response, Shepard sent documents to civil rights groups to bring attention to the cause. He was then placed in high-security segregation for eight months for being in possession of documents that had never been identified as contraband, he said.

Shepard's attorney said in a statement the state was trying to silence his client.

For copyright information, check with the distributor of this item, The Providence Journal.

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