New York City Officials and Advocates Push for Change to the “Culture of Brutality” on Rikers Island

City Council Member Daniel Dromm speaks, surrounded by advocates, on the step of City Hall.

Update, 8/22/14:  On Thursday, August 21, 2014, the New York City Council passed legislation introduced by Councilman Danny Dromm of Queens that would require corrections officials to release quarterly reports documenting information about inmates being held in solitary confinement at Rikers Island jail. Presenting this information to the New York City Board of Corrections would create […]

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 […]

Transgender Women in New York State Prisons Face Solitary Confinement and Sexual Assault

Michelle Smith worries about her child, Carey, a transgender woman being held in solitary confinement in a men's prison.

A SOLITARY WATCH INVESTIGATION It was Gay Pride weekend in New York City, but the event’s celebratory spirit was absent from Michelle Scott’s tidy second-floor apartment on a leafy street near Brooklyn College. Her child, Carey Smith, is a transgender woman currently locked up in solitary confinement in Upstate Correctional Facility, a men’s supermax prison […]

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 […]

Seven Days in Solitary [7/27/14]

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The following roundup features noteworthy news, reports and opinions on solitary confinement from the past week that have not been covered in other Solitary Watch posts. • Footage obtained by the Colorado Independent shows excessive force being used against a man who was placed in solitary after exhibiting suicidal behavior. The man was being monitored in […]

Seven Days in Solitary [7/20/14]

Solitary confinement news roundup

The following roundup features noteworthy news, reports and opinions on solitary confinement from the past week that have not been covered in other Solitary Watch posts. • Writing in The New York Times, Deborah Jiang-Stein describes journeying to the West Virginia prison where she was born, and discovering she spent the fist year of life […]

Federal Supermax Prison “in Violatation 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 […]

Teens in Isolation: State Advisers to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission Hold Briefing on Juvenile Solitary Confinement in New York

An isolation cell in "the Bing" on Rikers Island. Some 60 percent of the adolescents sent to Rikers have been diagnosed with mental illness. Many end up doing time in solitary.

Johnny Perez was sixteen when he was arrested for weapons possession. New York State automatically charges people ages 16 and over as adults, so the teenager was charged as an adult. Unable to afford the $100,000 bail, he was sent to Rikers Island to await trial. There, he was placed in C-74, the unit for […]

Ninety Years Old, Deaf, and in the Hole in a Florida Prison

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Elliott “Bud” Yorke, who is incarcerated at Florida’s Columbia Correctional Institution Annex at Lake City, was sent to solitary confinement on June 24. According to prison officials, he was placed in isolation for his own protection after corrections officers observed injuries suggesting that he had been assaulted. Aside from being two months shy of his 90th birthday, Yorke […]

“We Are Not the Worst of the Worst”: One Year Later, What’s Changed for Pelican Bay’s Hunger Strikers?

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On July 8, 2013, 30,000 prisoners refused their meals, launching the largest mass prison hunger strike in U.S. history. One year later, Todd Ashker is marking off his twenty-fourth year in Pelican Bay’s Security Housing Unit (SHU).  “I’m still alive, kicking and strong in heart and spirit,” he wrote in a June 2014 letter. Ashker […]