The American Friends Service Committee has put out a new edition of the vital publication Survivors Manual: Surviving in Solitary — A Manual Written By and For People Living in Control Units. The volume is a collection of letters, stories, poetry, and practical advice on surviving solitary confinement in prisons. AFSC released the following announcement last week:
Solitary confinement, characterized by 23-hour a day lockout with minimal exercise and lack of human contact, affects an estimated 100,000 prisoners in federal and state prisons in almost every state. Thus the need for “Survivors Manual,” which was first issued in 1998, is even more vital.
“The isolation of solitary confinement is torture according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture. The extended use of solitary severely affects all prisoners’ mental health, making re-entry to society all the more difficult. For those with pre-existing mental conditions, such consequences are even worse,” says Bonnie Kerness, Prison Watch Coordinator for AFSC.
In this powerful collection of voices from solitary, people currently or formerly held in isolation vividly describe their conditions and their daily lives. They also write about how they struggle to keep mind, body, and soul together in an environment that is designed to break them down. Many also analyze the political, economic, and social forces that shape their torturous situation. The collection also includes some stunning artwork and poetry.
A PDF of the manual is available online at the following link: http://www.afsc.org/document/survivors-manual-surviving-solitary. Copies can also be purchased for $3 each at the following site: http://www.quakerbooks.org/survivors_manual.php.