How the New Settlement Will—and Will Not—Change Solitary Confinement in New York’s Prisons (Redux)

Last Thursday, a federal judge gave formal approval to the settlement in a class-action suit brought by thousands of people held in solitary confinement in New York’s prisons, represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union. The ruling codifies an agreement reached in December, after extended negotiations, between the plaintiffs and the New York State […]

Off the Block

As the first of several journeys for Solitary Watch’s Alternatives Project, my colleague Aviva Stahl and I spent two weeks in Britain, visiting prisons and interviewing officials of HM Prison Service and its oversight bodies, advocates, lawyers, scholars, and currently and formerly incarcerated individuals. Our aim was to discover how solitary is—and is not—used in […]

New Feature: Milestones in Solitary Reform

This week we debut a new feature on Solitary Watch: a timeline that tracks the rapidly accumulating (and accelerating) reforms made to solitary confinement policies and practices across the country. “Milestones in Solitary Reform” – created and maintained by Amy Fettig of the ACLU National Prison Project, and Margo Schlanger of the University of Michigan Law School, with […]

London Calling

For the next two weeks, Solitary Watch will be on hiatus while my colleague Aviva Stahl and I take a reporting trip to the United Kingdom. While there, we will be speaking with officials and inspectors of Her Majesty’s Prison Service, as well as prison reform advocates, scholars, and currently and formerly incarcerated individuals. We  also […]

Supreme Court Justice Kennedy: "Solitary Confinement Literally Drives Men Mad"

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on Monday used long-term solitary confinement as evidence that the “idea of total incarceration just isn’t working.” Solitary “literally drives men mad,” Kennedy said, noting that more humane alternatives are employed elsewhere in the world. Kennedy’s comments were made during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the 2016 Budget Request for […]

Pope Francis Denounces Solitary Confinement, Calls for Prison Conditions That "Respect Human Dignity"

In a wide-ranging speech on Thursday, Pope Francis revealed himself as a passionate criminal justice reformer. His words also suggest that he is familiar with the controversies surrounding solitary confinement and supermax prisons, and strongly opposes their use. Speaking at the Vatican to representatives of the International Association of Penal Law, the Pope said: “All Christians and people […]