On Rikers Island, an End to the Solitary Confinement of Children

A solitary confinement cell on New York's Rikers Island.

The New York City Department of Correction (DOC) has plans to minimize the solitary confinement of 16 and 17 year olds on Rikers Island. This according to an internal memo obtained by the New York Times, as reported in an article published earlier this week. The revelation comes on the heels of a three-year investigation […]

News from the Hole: The Words of People in Solitary Confinement in America’s Prisons

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This story was funded by the Alicia Patterson Foundation. It originally appeared on CounterPunch, which has generously given Solitary Watch permission to republish it. “While waiting for an officer to handcuff and escort me back to the cell that awaited me after showering, I sat on the floor holding a razor used for shaving,” W writes to […]

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, 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 increased transparency […]

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 […]

Videos Show Brutal Treatment of Prisoners with Mental Illness

Disturbing footage shows guards were ordered to use excessive force on suicidal prisoner Isaiah Moreno at Denver City Jail.

Recently obtained videos which have been exposed to the public show corrections officers using extreme force on incarcerated people suffering from various forms of mental illness. Attack on a Suicidal Man at Denver City Jail Footage of one such video (shown below), taken in September of last year and later obtained by The Colorado Independent through an […]

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 […]

New York Prisons Bar Media from Solitary Confinement Units

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Late last year, we made several requests to be permitted, as members of the press, to view solitary confinement units in New York’s state prisons. After receiving no reply, we were fortunate enough to enlist the help of a pro bono attorney, Daniel Mulkoff with the firm of Cuti Hecker and Wang, who approached the New […]

New York City’s New Corrections Chief, Known for Solitary Confinement Reforms, Faces Steep Challenges on Rikers Island

New York City's new Commissioner of Correction, Joseph Ponte, with NYPD chief Bill Bratton and Mayor Bill DeBlasio.

In March, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed reformer Joseph Ponte as the Commissioner of the Department of Correction. In his last post, overseeing Maine’s Department of Corrections, Ponte gained particular renown for reducing the use of solitary confinement by over 60 percent. In fact, the changes he helped bring about in Maine […]

Way Down in the Hole: Senate Hearing Challenges Solitary Confinement for Some, But Not All

Damon Thibodeaux, who spent 15 years in solitary confinement on Louisiana's death row, testifies at the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on February 25.

It didn’t take much reading between the lines to decipher the central message of last week’s Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on solitary confinement. Lawmakers and witnesses alike appeared to agree: There are people in solitary confinement in American prisons who just don’t belong there. And then, there are other people who do. In taking this […]

New York Lawmakers Introduce Bill to End Long-Term Solitary Confinement

NY State Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry speaks at a press conference announcing the HALT Solitary Confinement Act. Photo: Bernadette Evangelista

“I’m here in a steel coffin,” Jessica Casanova’s nephew wrote to her from an isolation cell. “I’m breathing, but I’m dead.” Her nephew, she said, “has never been the same” after spending time in solitary confinement, and his experience compelled her to speak out for the thousands held in extreme isolation in New York’s prison and jails. Casanova was one of half a […]