In the Story of Jonah, an Urgent Lesson About the Dangers of Solitary Confinement

Drawing of a solitary confinement cell at California's Corcoran State Prison by Billy Sell, who died during last year's prison hunger strike.

Guest Post by Margo Schlanger The following piece originally appeared in September 2013 in Tablet, and is republished here by permission of the author.  Margo Schlanger is a professor of law at the University of Michigan and the former Department of Homeland Security Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. She helped to draft the American […]

Prayers for People in Solitary Confinement

A cell at Utah State Prison, Draper’s Uinta 1 facility

Editor’s Note: The following prayers, along with more than a hundred others, were delivered to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on Thursday. The same small selection of prayers was printed in Solitary Watch’s latest quarterly print edition, which goes out to some 800 individuals currently in solitary confinement. The complete collection of prayers […]

“Disappearing” the Disadvantaged Into Prison, and Into Solitary Confinement

Photo: Alan Pogue, Texas Center for Documentary Photography.

Guest Post by Terry Kupers Dr. Terry Kupers is one of the nation’s leading experts on the psychological effects of prison isolation. A psychiatrist with a background in psychoanalytic psychotherapy, forensics and social and community psychiatry, he is on the faculty of the Wright Institute in Berkeley. The following is a brief excerpt from a chapter […]

Doing “Bing Time”: Memories of a Mental Health Worker in Rikers Island’s Solitary Confinement Unit

A cell in Rikers Island's Central Punitive Segregation Unit.

The following post is a chapter from an unpublished book by Mary Buser, who worked in various capacities in the mental health system on Rikers Island. In Buser’s own words: “I worked in the Rikers Mental Health Department as a psychiatric social worker for five and a half years, leaving Rikers in 2000. I started off as a student intern […]

Prison Segregation and Racial Disparities

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Guest Post by Margo Schlanger Margo Schlanger is Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School. The following post is based on an article that appeared in the Michigan Journal of Race & Law (see link below). The article was presented as introduction to a symposium held at the University of Michigan Law School […]

One Month After Historic Hunger Strike, California Lawmakers Hold Hearings on Solitary Confinement

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Guest Post by Victoria Law The following report on the October 9 hearing held by the California legislature originally appeared on Truthout. The author, Victoria Law is a writer, photographer, and mother. She is the author of Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women (PM Press 2009), the editor of the zine Tenacious: Art and Writings […]

U.S. DOJ Documents Torturous Treatment of Prisoners with Mental Illness in Pennsylvania Solitary Confinement Unit

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Guest Post by the Human Rights Coalition Editors’ Note: The following article is reprinted from a special edition of the PA Prisons Report, a publication of the Human Rights Coalition. HRC is a Pennsylvania-based “group of prisoners’ families, ex-prisoners, and supporters” which believes that “the prison system reflects all inequalities in our society, and it does not […]

Russell Maroon Shoatz: Resisting the “Spiritual Death” of Solitary Confinement

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Guest Post by Kanya D’Almeida and Bret Grote “Control unit facilities cannot be allowed to exist,” writes Russell Maroon Shoatz in a piece called “Death by Regulation.” “They serve no purpose other than to dehumanize their occupants. Our collective welfare demands that we do everything within our power to bring about an end to this […]

To See or Not to See: Capturing Herman Wallace’s 41 Years in Solitary

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Guest Post by Angad Bhalla Angad Bhalla is the director of Herman’s House, a documentary film that examines the injustice of solitary confinement by exploring the creative journey and friendship between artist Jackie Sumell and Herman Wallace. Forty-one years ago today, Wallace was placed in solitary confinement following the murder of a corrections officer at Louisiana’s […]

Opposing the Architecture of Isolation: Architects Against Solitary Confinement

Photo: Christoph Gielen, Untitled XVI Arizona, 2010.

Guest Post by Raphael Sperry Raphael Sperry is an architect, green building consultant, teacher, and outspoken advocate on the role of architecture in social justice issues. He founded and directs the “Alternatives to Incarceration / Prison Design Boycott Campaign” of the non-profit Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) and has presented his research at numerous professional […]