Mentally Ill in South Carolina’s Prisons Suffer Decades of Abuse and Neglect

Photo: South Carolina Department of Corrections, Trial Exhibit

A court ruling out of South Carolina this week deserves the attention of anyone concerned with the use of solitary confinement and other brutal conditions and practices on the hundreds of thousands of people with mental illness who are held in our nation’s prisons. The best reporting on the ruling comes from The Atlantic’s Andrew […]

War [on Crime] Is Over ——— If You Want It

Barbed wire

Santa Was in Prison and Jesus Got the Death Penalty


This post has become a Christmas tradition at Solitary Watch. To all our readers, warm wishes for the holidays. Special thanks to those who have helped us bring a small ray of light into the darkness of solitary confinement by supporting our Lifelines to Solitary project. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  […]

Lifelines to Solitary


Dear Solitary Watchers: We approach our readers with an appeal for support only once a year. And even then, we don’t ask you to help us with general operating expenses, but rather with a very special part of our work. All year long, while we are carrying on our research and reporting on the human rights crisis in […]

Mandela in Solitary


“I found solitary confinement the most forbidding aspect of prison life. There is no end and no beginning; there is only one’s mind, which can begin to play tricks. Was that a dream or did it really happen? One begins to question everything.” –Nelson Mandela, from his 1994 autobiography The Long Walk to Freedom Nelson […]

In States That “Reduce” Their Use of Solitary Confinement, Suffering Continues for Those Left Behind

A cell in the supermax unit at Maine State Prison. Photo by Lance Tapley.

Under pressure from activists, lawsuits, and even a few reformers within the corrections system, several states have significantly reduced the number of people they hold in solitary confinement in their prison systems. These reductions, achieved largely through “reclassifying” prisoners and returning the least troublesome ones to the general population, have rightly been celebrated by opponents […]

After 41 Years in Solitary, a Dying Herman Wallace Has His Conviction Overturned—-and Is Freed


Update, 10/4/15, 10 am: Herman Wallace died early this morning, a free man. He was 71 years old. In a long article we wrote in 2006 on Herman Wallace and his case, we ended with a quote from a letter he wrote to Jackie Sumell: “I’m often asked what did I come to prison for; and now […]

New Project: Photo Requests from Solitary

Darrius: "My Auntie's House on the Block." Photo by Chris Murphy, 2012.

Solitary Watch has been on a brief hiatus this week as we worked on our latest collaboration, Photo Requests From Solitary. Please check out our new page on the project to view more photos. If you are in New York, come see the exhibit at Photoville in Brooklyn, and join us this afternoon for a panel […]

New Directive May Curtail Use of Solitary Confinement in Immigrant Detention


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement last week issued a new “directive” that appears aimed at limiting the use of solitary confinement on individuals held in immigrant detention. The directive is being cautiously celebrated by human rights, civil liberties, and immigrants’ rights groups, who at the same time warn that a great deal will depend upon how […]

New Solitary Watch Print Edition

Solitary Watch Summer 2013 Print Edition

Our summer newsletter recently which went out to 500+ people in solitary confinement. This quarter’s print edition includes articles on the obstacles to reporting on solitary confinement and the California prison hunger strike, as well as news briefs from around the country. It also includes a moving plea from the mother of a young son held […]