In the runup to the first Congressional hearing on solitary confinement, we are featuring a video made last fall by Solitary Watch videographer Valeria Monfrini. She took a microphone to Lafayette Park, opposite the White House and two miles west of the Capitol, where she asked locals and tourists the question: “What do you know about solitary confinement?”
While some had an inkling of what solitary confinement is, none knew the extent to which it is used in the United States, where on any given day at least 80,000 people are isolated in the nation’s prisons and jails. Safe to say this is no accident, since most states and the federal government deny that they use solitary confinement (preferring terms like “administrative segregation” or “security housing”). Supermax prisons and solitary units serve as virtual domestic black sites, where inmates live out of sight of the public, the press, and sometimes even their own families.