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Judge: End Pa. Inmate's Decades In Solitary

State Department of Corrections

A federal judge is directing the state Corrections Department to end an inmate's stay in solitary confinement after 36 years.

U.S. Middle District Judge Christopher Conner has ruled any concerns 64-year-old convicted murderer Arthur Johnson might escape are outweighed by arguments he should be housed with the general population.

Johnson made several escape attempts after being convicted of the 1970 murder of a man in Philadelphia, but officials describe him as being a model prisoner for the past 25 years.

His small cell at the State Correctional Institution in Frackville, Schuylkill County, is illuminated at all hours, he gets one hour in a small caged-in area of the prison yard five days a week and is taken to showers in handcuffs three times a week.

The cell is 7-by-10-foot and has had a TV and radio.  

Messages seeking comment from Corrections Department officials weren't immediately returned.

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