After Hunger Strikes, Solitary Confinement Reforms Come to California’s Prisons——and Leave Thousands Behind

A corridor in the Pelican Bay SHU, where the hunger strikes began. (Photo: Michael Montgomery/KQED)

Four years ago today, approximately 6,600 people in California prisons launched a hunger strike in protest of long-term solitary confinement. The protest would be the first of three large-scale actions by state prisoners to bring awareness to the issue of long-term solitary confinement. At the epicenter was Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, home of […]

Supreme Court Justice Kennedy Denounces “Human Toll” of Solitary Confinement and Invites Constitutional Challenge

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Guest Post by Samuel Weiss and Amy Fettig Samuel Weiss is Ford Foundation Fellow at the ACLU’s Center for Justice. Amy Fettig is Senior Staff Counsel at the ACLU’s National Prison Project. In March, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was testifying before the House Appropriations Subcommittee when he received a question on prison overcrowding. He responded […]

American Outcasts: U.S. Prisons and Modern Day Banishment

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  The following article was published on Wednesday on The Intercept. It was written with the support of a fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation. In 1986, Patty Prewitt was sent to prison for the murder of her husband. In addition to maintaining her innocence, she, like many others her age, has also been a […]

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 […]

Supreme Court Justice Kennedy: Corrections System Is “Broken” and “Solitary Confinement Literally Drives Men Mad”

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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 […]

Fates Worse Than Death?

Kenny Zulu Whitmore,  State Prison in Angola, LA

The following article was published earlier this week by the Marshall Project, the new nonprofit news organization focused exclusively on criminal justice. It can be read in full on the Marshall Project’s site.  In 1987, when he was 23 years old and in court on a drug charge, William Blake shot two sheriff’s deputies in […]

After 42 Years in Solitary Confinement, Will the Angola 3’s Albert Woodfox Be a Free Man?

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

In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the overturning of Albert Woodfox’s conviction. Yet he may remain in prison–and in solitary confinement–for months or even years before his four-decade ordeal is over. Woodfox has been held in solitary confinement for more than 42 years for the 1972 murder […]

UN Committee on Torture Questions U.S. Record on Solitary Confinement

Members of the UN Committee on Torture question a U.S. delegation at a hearing in Geneva last week.

Last Wednesday and Thursday, United States government officials met with representatives at the United Nations to discuss the country’s compliance with the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). Every country that is a signatory to the CAT is required to submit a “Periodic Report” to the […]

U.S. Government Tells UN Committee on Torture: “There Is No Systematic Use of Solitary Confinement in the United States”

Representatives of "civil society" have been asked to comment on a report stating that the U.S. does not torture.

Today, dozens of advocates will travel from around the country to Washington, DC, to take part in what are called “Civil Society Consultations” with representatives of the U.S. government on the subject of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). As a signatory of CAT, the […]

Pennsylvania Prison System Faces Lawsuit Over Suicide of Young Man with Mental Illness

Brandon Palakovic with his mother, Renee Palakovic.

On July 17, 2012, Brandon Palakovic, 23, committed suicide by hanging himself in his cell while housed in a solitary confinement unit at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Cresson, a Pennsylvania prison that has since closed its doors. Nearly two years later, on July 8, 2014, Palakovic’s parents filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC). […]