Voices from Solitary: Testimony of a Jailhouse Lawyer

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Ty Evans is serving time in Pendleton Correctional Facility in Indiana for attempted murder. There, he became a self-taught legal advocate for other incarcerated men—a “jailhouse lawyer.”  There is no right to counsel for those serving prison sentences who seek to challenge their convictions  or their sentences–which is just one aspect of the utter failing […]

Voices from Solitary: Reach Out

Ricky Silva, help in close management, or solitary confinement, in Florida State Prison

The following two poems come from Ricky Silva, who is currently serving a life sentence at Florida State Prison. Silva, 34, has been held in close management, or solitary confinement, for over four years. Regarding the first poem below, entitled “Killed by the Dark,” Silva expresses his sadness and anger at the suicide of another prisoner, also […]

Voices from Solitary: 23 and 1

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The author of the following piece of memoir, Shaka Senghor, served nearly two decades in Michigan state prisons for a murder committed when he was 19-years old. On his website, he states: “Writing about my wrongs was the first of many steps that I took to atone for taking a man’s life. Through the transformative […]

Voices from Solitary: Playing “The Con Game” at Pelican Bay

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In Fall 2012, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) unveiled its “Step Down” program to evaluate prisoners with indefinite terms in its notorious Security Housing Units (SHUs) for release to general population. The program immediately drew criticism from both prisoners and their advocates, who charged that even those who have spent years in the SHU […]

Voices from Solitary, Analyzing Isolation, Part III

Leon Benson | Shakespeare in the SHU

This post is the next in a series of pieces Solitary Watch is publishing as part of a project calling for people held in solitary confinement to write on various proposed themes. Our second suggested theme, “Analyzing Isolation,” calls for writers to provide their analyses of solitary, discussing ways in which the practice is harmful and counterproductive.  […]

Voices from Solitary: “That Which Does Not Kill Us…”

A cell at supermax Wisconsin Secure Program Facility in Boscobel

The following comes from Glenn T. Turner, 40, who has been held in solitary confinement at the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility (WSPF), since 2010, when he was assigned to the facility’s General Segregation Program Process. In his piece, Turner, who has been in and out of solitary confinement since 1992, provides a firsthand account of the devastating effect isolation […]

Voices from Solitary: Head Cases

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The following piece, including the introduction, was originally published in the Colorado Independent, and is republished here by permission.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . Editor’s note: Yesterday, the Colorado General Assembly passed a bill to ban the use of long-term solitary confinement for prisoners with […]

Voices from Solitary, Analyzing Isolation, Part II

Razor wire on the fencing at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, TX.

This post is the next in a series of pieces Solitary Watch is publishing as part of a project calling for people held in solitary confinement to write on various proposed themes. Our second suggested theme, “Analyzing Isolation,” calls for writers to provide their analyses of solitary, discussing ways in which the practice is counterproductive.  The following […]

Voices from Solitary: Analyzing Isolation, Part I

ADX Florence, Florence Colarado

This post is the next in a series of pieces Solitary Watch is publishing as part of a project calling for people held in solitary confinement to write on various proposed themes. Our second suggested theme, “Analyzing Isolation,” calls for writers to provide their analyses of solitary, discussing ways in which the practice is counterproductive.  […]

Voices from Solitary: Double Celling

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The following piece was jointly written by Five Mualimm-ak and Shaquille Mualimm-ak, who are father and son. Five Mualimm-ak is now a prison reform activist and director of the Incarcerated Nation Campaign. While incarcerated in New York State prisons, he spent five years in solitary confinement for nonviolent disciplinary infractions, and has written previously about […]