Obama, in Criminal Justice Speech, Denounces the “Overuse of Solitary Confinement” in U.S. Prisons

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President Barack Obama said in a speech today that he has asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch to “start a review of the overuse of solitary confinement across American prisons.” He went on to challenge the practice as counterproductive as well as inhumane. In a speech on criminal justice delivered at the annual convention of the […]

Voices from Solitary: Fly in the Ointment

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Peter Collins has been in prison for more than 30 years and is one of Canada’s longest-serving prisoners. He is currently incarcerated at Bath Institution near Kingston, Ontario. Collins is an award-winning human rights activist, writer, artist and peer health educator.  In 2008, he was awarded the Canadian Award for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human […]

Kafka and the Debate Over Solitary Confinement

Piranesi, from "The Imaginary Prisons" (1761)

Guest Post by Michael B. Mushlin Michael Mushlin, professor at Pace Law School, has a long history of involvement with prisoners rights as a lawyer and legal scholar. He has lectured and published widely on the subject and is author of the four-volume Rights of Prisoners. He serves on the board of the Correctional Association of New York, […]

Irish Court Blocks Suspect’s Extradition to U.S., Citing Risk of Solitary Confinement  

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An Irish court has blocked a U.S. extradition request because of the conditions of solitary confinement the accused could face if sent to the United States. Ireland’s High Court determined there was a real risk that Irish citizen Ali Charaf Damache would be incarcerated at the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum (ADX) in Florence, Colorado, and […]

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 […]

Kalief Browder’s Life and Death Galvanize Action to End Solitary Confinement

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Three weeks ago, a young African American man from the Bronx took his own life. The impact of Kalief Browder’s suicide has been felt at the city, state, and even federal levels, and may be felt far into the future. Browder’s story, in which he was held on Rikers Island for three years beginning at […]

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 […]

New Report Highlights 10 Destructive Myths About Solitary Confinement

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As the first in a planned series of reports, the Vera Institute for Justice’s Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative has published Solitary Confinement: Common Misconceptions and Emerging Safe Alternatives. As noted in  the overview to the report: Evidence mounts that the practice produces many unwanted and harmful outcomes—for the mental and physical health of those placed […]

With Loved Ones in Prison, Women Become Leaders in the Fight Against Solitary Confinement in New York

Jessica Casanova speaks in support of the HALT Solitary Confinement Act at a press conference in 2014.

Jessica Casanova’s nephew wrote her a letter: “I”m here in a steel coffin. I’m breathing but I’m dead.” Casanova recounted, “I didn’t know what that meant so I got on a bus and I found out.” That was in 2012, and three years later, she’s still finding out. As it turned out, Casanova’s nephew, Juan, […]

New Report Documents Brutal Treatment of People with Mental Illness in U.S. Prisons and Jails

Capt. Shawn Welch sprays OC spray into the face of Paul Schlosser who is bound in a restraint chair after the inmate, who has an infectious disease, spit at an officer.  June 10, 2012.

“Across the United States, staff working in jails and prisons have used unnecessary, excessive, and even malicious force on prisoners with mental disabilities such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.” This is the conclusion of Callous and Cruel: Use of Force Against Inmates with Mental Disabilities in US Jails and Prisons a Human Rights Watch report […]