Hunger Strike in the Supermax: Pelican Bay Prisoners Protest Conditions in Solitary Confinement

As Americans prepare to celebrate Independence Day, inmates in solitary confinement at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison are standing up for their rights in the only way they can–by going on a hunger strike. The prisoners, who are being held in long-term and often permanent isolation, have sworn to refuse food until conditions are improved in Pelican Bay’s Security Housing Unit […]

Voices from Solitary: On Solitary Confinement and Finding Humanity

Susan Crane is part of Plowshares movement, which protests nuclear weapons through nonviolent civil disobedience at military bases and other nuclear facilities. She is a member of the “Disarm Now Plowshares Five,” who were arrested in November 2009 after they clandestinely entered the Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base outside Seattle, the largest nuclear weapons storage facility in […]

Confronting Torture in U.S. Prisons: A Q&A With Solitary Watch

The following interview with James Ridgeway and Jean Casella, conducted by Angola 3 News, appeared earlier this week on Alternet (where you can read the introduction, which includes background on the upcoming prisoner hunger strike at Pelican Bay.) Angola 3 News: How did you first become interested in the issue of solitary confinement and ultimately become inspired to start […]

Solitary Confinement Widely Used in California's Juvenile Jails

CHILDREN IN LOCKDOWN Based on findings by the state’s own court-appointed overseers, California Watch reports that “Juvenile inmates at California correctional facilities have been held in isolation nearly 24 hours straight on hundreds of occasions this year, in violation of state regulations.” An audit by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in March found multiple facilities […]

Voices from Solitary: The Meaning of "Life"

Joseph Dole is currently serving a life sentence without parole at Tamms state supermax prison in Illinois. For the past eight years, he has been in solitary confinement (under conditions described by Dole himself here, and detailed in recent newspaper exposés here and here). His writing has been honored by the PEN American Center’s Prison Writing Contest and appears […]

From BOP to CCA: Federal Prison Director Defects to Private Prison Company

Less than a month after retiring from his post as Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), Harley G. Lappin has been hired to a top positon at the nation’s largest private, for-profit prison contractor, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). In a move that has gone virtually unnoticed by the press except on the business pages, Lappin, who had […]

Maine Cuts Supermax Population, Reforms Solitary Confinement Practices

As Lance Tapley reported last week, recent developments in Maine demonstrate the difference that reform-minded leadership can make to prison conditions, including the use and abuse of solitary confinement. Even as it has grown exponentially over recent decades, the use of solitary has generally been treated not as a human rights issue but as a matter of correctional […]