Live from Death Row: 3,600 Americans Waiting Alone to Die

Most residents of the nation’s death rows live in long-term solitary confinement, in what are effectively supermax units for the condemned. They are subject to all of the devastating psychological and physical effects of prolonged isolation, with the added torment of knowing that someday they will more than likely be put to death at the hands of the state. According to […]

N.J. Prison Abused Inmates During Month-Long Lockdown

Solitary confinement in U.S. prisons can take many forms–including the temporary lockdown of units, buildings, or entire prisons. These 24-hour lockdowns are routinely instituted in response to perceived threats to prison safety or authority. On occasion, they can extend to days, weeks, or even months, during which the prison is under a kind of martial law even more extreme than its […]

Atul Gawande on Solitary Confinement: Our Generation of Americans "Has Countenanced Legalized Torture"

On April 7, a year after his groundbreaking piece on solitary confinement, “Hellhole,” appeared in the New Yorker, Dr. Atul Gawande spoke about the issue at Harvard Law School. Gawande reiterated many of the points made in his article about long-term isolation in U.S. prisons, citing evidence of its ineffectiveness as well as its cruelty. Worth repeating here, however, are […]

Cash-Strapped Colorado Comes Up With Funds for New Supermax

Colorado’s $18.2 billion budget, which state lawmakers passed this week after contentious debate, makes substantial cuts to public education, colleges and universities, and tax breaks for small businesses and senior citizens. In the face of shrunken revenues (and dwindling federal stimulus funds), Colorado even reduced its overall corrections budget. But in the midst of all these deep cuts to […]

Obama's Plan Is the "Wrong Way to Close Guantanamo," Groups Warn

Part of Obama’s plan for fulfilling his campaign promise to close Guantanamo calls for moving a piece of the notorious detention camp, virtually intact, onto mainland American soil. In a letter sent to members of Congress this week, a coalition including the ACLU,  Amnesty International USA, and the Center for Constitutional Rights warned against this portion of the White House plan for Gitmo detainees, which the groups believe “could […]

The Machinery of Death: Some Death Row Prisoners Can Still Opt for Firing Squad (or Electric Chair, Gas Chamber, or Noose)

The state of Utah is going to allow death row inmate Ronnie Lee Gardner to choose how he dies–as long as he chooses either lethal injection or a firing squad. Gardner is one of a shrinking groups of condemned prisoners, in more than a dozen states, who are still permitted to make a final, macabre choice between lethal injection and […]

Maine Legislature Votes to Study Solitary Confinement Practices--But Not to Change Them

Everyone concerned with solitary confinement has been closely watching a landmark effort in the Maine state legislature to pass a bill that would have significantly limited the practice in state prisons. On Monday that effort culminated in what some advocates have called a “gutted” version of the bill–and others see as a meaningful first step toward […]

The Parable of Yarl's Wood

Guest Post by Dan Moshenberg Editors’ note: Today’s guest post is by Dan Moshenberg, who directs the Women’s Studies Program at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He is co-convener of the Women In and Beyond the Global Project, and coordinator of www.womeninandbeyond.org. His teaching and research focus in part on women in the global prison […]

Solitary Watch Watches National Geographic's Experiment in Solitary Confinement

As we wrote earlier, it’s hard to say whether the National Geographic Channel’s treatment of solitary confinement will do more harm than good. In addition to an upcoming episode of “Explorer” on the subject, the NG Channel is hosting an “experiment” that promises to provide a “live window into the solitary experience“: Three subjects spend a week in faux lockdown cells […]

Solitary Confinement: Coming Live to a Computer Near You

In what its hosts promise will be a “Live Window Into the Solitary Confinement Experience,” three “everyman volunteers” will place themselves in model solitary confinement cells, where the public can watch them on live streaming video. This “experience,” which begins today at 8 a.m., is taking place in conjunction with the upcoming broadcast of “Explorer: Solitary Confinement,” an episode […]