Voices from Solitary: A Sentence Worse Than Death


William Blake has been in solitary confinement for 27 years. When he was 23 years old and in county court on a drug charge, Blake murdered one deputy and wounded another in a failed escape attempt. He was sentenced to 77 years to life.  This essay earned Blake an Honorable Mention in the Yale Law Journal’s Prison […]

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 […]

Voices from Solitary: A Day in the Life, Part II

Polunksy cell

This post is the second in a series of pieces Solitary Watch is publishing as part of a new project calling for people held in solitary confinement to write on various proposed themes. As mentioned in our introduction to the series, our first suggested theme, “A Day in the Life,” calls for writers to describe a day in his […]

Seven Days in Solitary [11/24/13]


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. • The new ACLU report A Living Death describes the more than 3,000 Americans serving life without parole for nonviolent crimes. The report was the subject of a New York […]

Voices from Solitary: 144 Years for Prison Escapes

Polunsky Unit Cell | Solitary Confinement

The following comes from widely known, multiple prison escapee Steven Jay Russell, 56, who is currently serving a 144-year sentence in administrative segregation at the all-solitary Allan B. Polunsky Unit on Texas death row. Robert Perkinson, author of Texas Tough, describes Polunsky as “the most lethal [death row] anywhere in the democratic world” and “the hardest place to do time in Texas.” Russell, […]

Inside ADX Supermax, Part 1: “A Bloody Nightmare”

Harold Cunningham

In June 2012, a federal lawsuit was filed by eleven prisoners at the United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX Florence) against the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The facility houses approximately 450 men from across the country in solitary confinement units. The lawsuit alleges that inmates diagnosed with mental illnesses are denied constitutionally adequate […]

Voices from Solitary: Everyone Needs a Friend

"The Close Management Cell," by Daniel McKafee, held at Florida State Prison (Source: Concrete Cage)

The following was written by Ricky Silva, 33, who is currently serving a life sentence at Florida State Prison, where he has spent almost four years in solitary confinement held in close management. He writes, “I even agree with my prison sentence… I don’t hold it against anyone who feels I got what I should get… […]

Voices from Solitary: American Supermax


Joseph Dole is serving a life without parole sentence for a conviction that he continues to fight pro se. He was confined in Tamms Supermax Prison for a full decade, from 2002 through 2012, when a court ruling gave him and others at Tamms a due process right to a fair hearing, which allowed him to win a […]

Women in California Prison Isolation Units Face Overcrowding and Despair


Women in Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) are reporting being held in Administrative Segregation (Ad Seg) for over three months, following the closure of Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW) for use as a male facility. CCWF, which is located just down the road from the former VSPW, is now one of three female facilities […]

Voices from Solitary: Your Imagination, But My Reality

Photo Credits: AFSC Prison Watch

The following was written by Troy Hendrix, who is currently serving a life sentence at Elmira Correctional Facility, a maximum security facility located in south central New York State. For the last seven years, Hendrix, 29, has been held in administrative segregation, meaning that he’s in solitary confinement indefinitely. In this powerful piece, Hendrix asks readers […]