Working from the Inside Out

schenwar cover

Guest Post by Maya Schenwar Editors’ Note: The following is an excerpt from Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better, a new book by Maya Schenwar. Locked Down, Locked Out shows how “the institution that locks up 2.3 million Americans and decimates poor communities of color is shredding the […]

Funding Approved for Activation of ADX/USP Thomson, New Federal Supermax Prison

Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Illinois (Photo: suntimes.com)

Even as it touts new initiatives to reduce the number of people it holds in solitary confinement, the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) continues to quietly make headway on the activation of Thomson Correctional Center in northwestern Illinois. If all proceeds as planned, Thomson will substantially increase the federal government’s capacity to hold individuals in […]

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

Tamms Cells

This post is the third 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 (read the first and second entries here and here). Our first suggested theme, “A Day in the Life,” calls for writers to describe a day in his […]

Voices from Solitary: Hunger Strike in Menard Prison

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A little over a year ago, the notorious Tamms Correctional Center was closed, after a long battle by activists and with the support of Governor Pat Quinn. Individuals were rehoused in prisons across Illinois, including Menard Correctional Center, the largest maximum-security institution in the state. While few would argue that it is anything but an improvement over […]

Seven Days in Solitary [1/19/13]

Solitary confinement cell

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. • An NPR report by Laura Sullivan discusses the treatment of people with mental illness in Chicago’s Cook County Jail–and in jails around the country–including the extensive use of solitary […]

Voices from Solitary: American Supermax

TAMMS CORRECTIONAL CENTER

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 […]

Solitary Watch Print Edition

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On this first day of summer, it occurs to us that we’ve never posted our spring newsletter, which went out to 500+ people in solitary more than a month ago. This quarter’s print edition includes articles on children in solitary and on closing Tamms supermax prison, along with news briefs from around the country. It […]

Voices from Solitary: 13.5 Square Feet

menard

Menard Correctional Center is the largest maximum security prison in the state of Illinois. A December 2011 report by the John Howard Association, a prison watchdog group, depicts Menard as decrepit, overcrowded, violent, and subject to frequent lockdowns. In the Segregation Unit, two men are housed, often in continuous 24-hour-a-day confinement, in cells designed for one person. The cells […]

The Art of Activism: Closing Tamms Supermax

tamms mud

A new article from Creative Time Reports highlights the role played by politically engaged art in the campaign to shut down Tamms supermax prison in southern Illinois. Tamms closed its doors for good in January, but only after a protracted battle in which family members of the incarcerated, grassroots activists, and artists–joined to form the group […]

Guarding the Fortresses: How Prison Policies Limit Media Access to Solitary Confinement

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Journalists face serious obstacles to reporting on prisons–and even more to uncovering the truth about solitary confinement. (See James Ridgeway’s essay “Fortresses of Solitude.”) Public oversight of governmental institutions, which can help to prevent corruption and abuse by those in power, is seen as a hallmark of an engaged, democratic citizenry. However, when it comes […]