Federal Judge Orders Angola 3’s Albert Woodfox Unconditionally Released After 43 Years in Solitary Confinement (Updated 6/12)

Albert Woodfox in 2012. Louisiana's Attorney General has called Woodfox the "most dangerous man on the planet."

Update, June 12, 4:30 pm: The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has decided to continue the stay and block release until the State of Louisiana’s appeal is heard, but they have also granted an “expedited” status for the appeal. Final legal briefs are due August 7, so nearly two more months will pass before Albert Woodfox […]

Solitary Watch Spring 2015 Print Edition

Solitary Watch Newsletter – Spring, 2015

For the past four years, Solitary Watch has been sending a quarterly print edition, with selected stories from the website, to individuals in solitary confinement. Our list now numbers more than 1,500. If you know someone inside who would like to receive our mailings, please email their address to info@solitarywatch.com, or send it to Solitary […]

Voices from ADX: Living “Inside America’s Toughest Prison”

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The New York Times Magazine feature story on the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum, or ADX, in Florence, Colorado, appeared under the headline “Inside America’s Toughest Prison.” In fact, no journalist has been inside ADX for at least 15 years, but 400 men live there, some for years or decades. The story has suddenly spurred interest […]

UN Torture Investigator Barred from Visiting American Supermax Prisons

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More than two years ago, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Méndez, asked the U.S. State Department for permission to visit individuals in solitary confinement in supermax prisons and isolation units. He is still waiting for a response. Recently, our colleague Sarah Shourd interviewed Méndez for an article in the Daily Beast that describes his […]

Audit of Solitary Confinement in Federal Prisons: An Inside Job Reaches Foregone Conclusions

ADX Florence in Colorado, where more than 400 men are held in extreme isolation.

A long-awaited audit of the use of solitary and other forms of isolated confinement in the federal Bureau of Prison (BOP) recommends minor reforms while affirming the overall legitimacy and efficacy of a system that holds more than 10,000 people in extreme isolation. At 242 pages in length, the Federal Bureau of Prisons: Special Housing Unit Review […]

For Solitary Confinement in U.S. Prisons, A Year of Incremental Reform

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As the year ended, The Marshall Project provided a comprehensive roundup of reforms to solitary confinement practices across the country. Eli Hager and Gerald Rich write: “In 2014 one of the most controversial practices in criminal justice, solitary confinement, faced unprecedented challenges. As a result of legislation or lawsuits, ten states adopted 14 measures aimed at […]

Santa Was in Prison and Jesus Got the Death Penalty

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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 (or plan to help) us bring a small ray of light into the darkness of solitary confinement by supporting our Lifelines to Solitary project. –Jim & Jean .  .  .  .  […]

Civil Rights Groups Demand Change for Transgender Women Held in Solitary in New York’s Prisons

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Update, 8/20/14: Yesterday, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project released a new call to action to “Demand Safer Housing for Trans People in New York State Prisons.” After once again citing our investigation, SLRP tells the story of Synthia China Blast, a transwoman who has spent a decade in isolation in New York’s prisons, with an accompanying video […]

Federal Supermax Prison “in Violation of International Law”: Amnesty International

Interior of a cell at ADX Florence. Photo from Amnesty International © Private.

Many times, on this site and elsewhere, we have referred to supermax prisons and solitary confinement units as “America’s domestic black sites“–places where terrible suffering, even torture, take place on a daily basis, out of site of the public, the press, and in some cases the government’s own meager oversight. At the dark heart of […]

Holder Makes Obama Administration’s First Public Statement on Solitary Confinement

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In a weekly video message earlier this month, Attorney General Eric Holder made the first public statement on solitary confinement to emerge from the Obama White House (or, as far as we know, any U.S. presidential administration). A statement accompanying the 3-minute video on the Department of Justice’s website outlines the position taken by Holder–and, by implication, the DOJ […]