Please Donate to Lifelines to Solitary 2015

Within an already bleak prison system, you’ve been further condemned to a six-by-nine concrete box. It’s a box built to break you down–to strip away your humanity, rewire your mind, and disabuse you of the notion that you once belonged in another world.

This box separates you from all human contact, from any sense of purpose—eventually, perhaps, from your own fragile memories and dreams. Its gray walls stand as nothing gets in or out.

Nothing, that is, but a simple stamped envelope.

Over the past five years, Solitary Watch has focused on uncovering the well-guarded practice of locking down incarcerated men, women, and children in extreme isolation and sensory deprivation.

We know of this condition as solitary confinement. Those who endure it know it as torture.

By exposing a human rights crisis hiding in plain sight, Solitary Watch has helped to propel the issue of solitary confinement into the national arena. And through our Lifelines to Solitary project, we’ve reached into the gray boxes with newsletters, cards, and personal letters.

For thousands of individuals, Lifelines is often the only source of new, unworn thoughts, much needed distractions, and news from the battles being fought on their behalf.

Lifelines to Solitary may be their only reminder that the world outside their cell has not forgotten them.

Holiday Card - Lifelines to Solitary 2015 - Art by Five Mualimm-ak, survivor of 5 years in solitary confinement.

Whether we once measured our success by the handwritten ‘thank-you’ letters in every morning’s mail, or by the new reader requests growing faster every day, our new test – the one we must pass on behalf of all those inside waiting for their next piece of mail – will be whether we, too, can grow.

Earlier this fall, we collaborated with Princeton University’s Students for Prison Education and Reform, helping to enlist 80 young women and men to correspond regularly with our readers in solitary confinement. We hope this is only the beginning.

​With your help, we will expand Lifelines to Solitary into the first nation-wide, solitary-focused letter-writing program. We will enable local student groups, communities of faith and other organizations to operate as Lifelines chapters.

We will connect people suffering in silence with those willing to break that silence with a stamp.

Nothing we do is more important than Lifelines to Solitary—and nothing is more difficult to fund. Only with your continued support can we afford to keep up with our own growth, and keep throwing out lifelines to thousands of people in solitary confinement.

Your generosity will be felt in ways you can only begin to imagine.


  • jay

    Earlier this year a friend of mine died i was devastated.achieving contact and the friendship of a guy whose spent 6yr in solitary eased my grief and mended my heart. We get on really well and have established a great took about 6month to get to know around1 another properly,with bits n pieces of our lives and characters coming out with each letter, he’s one of my best frieends now i wouldn’t swap him for anyone!
    He has a wonderful heart and comforts me by writing to someone like this you’re not just making an enormous difference to a tortured, suffering person, you get positive stuff out of it too.
    On holidays it’s good to send a card to a few people, and on random days when you may feel like making a and peace

  • Chuck Culhane

    A good initiative. The strike and work of the prisoners at Pelican Bay and Corcoran several years ago set the stage for a national focus, and that continues in many venues and forms. Correspondence with people inside is important and vital, as Amnesty International has demonstrated for decades. Personal contact with people in solitary should include a political dimension, that is, work on different endeavors to bring an end to or modify existing practices. In New York, for example, a Prisoners Legal Services attorney brought suit to challenge a 4-year solitary sanction brought against a juvenile. A state appellate court intervened and reduced the term. Legislation is another form, lobbying for bills that are pending, or calling for legislation. Kudos to you, Jay, and may others have constructive contacts with people inside. (from Buffalo, NY)