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 […]

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, […]

Legislation Limiting Solitary Confinement in New York Gains Momentum

Activists rally in the New York State Capitol after a day of lobbying for the HALT Solitary Confinement Act.

A bill to significantly limit the use solitary confinement in New York state prison and local jails gained momentum last week, after nine Assembly members and two state senators agreed to support the legislation. The new sponsorships, secured after a day of lobbying that brought more than 120 activists to Albany from around the state, […]

Women in New York State Prisons Face Solitary Confinement and Shackling While Pregnant or Sick

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What does solitary confinement have to do with reproductive justice? Quite a lot, says a new report about reproductive health care in New York’s women’s prisons. The Correctional Association of New York, a criminal justice policy and advocacy organization, released Reproductive Injustice: The State of Reproductive Health Care for Women in New York State Prisons. […]

Voices from Solitary: My Tranz Brothers and Sisters Are There, Boxed

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Lexy is a 36-year-old transgender woman who was recently released from New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) custody after about two and a half years inside. She spent three months in solitary confinement in “the Box” — first at Watertown, then at Midstate — after a can lid was found under her bed. She says that the […]

Solitary Not Yet Over at Rikers, But Advocates Keep Fighting

Members of the Jails Action Coalition after the New York City Board of Correction hearing on January 13. (Photo: WNV/Nick Malinowski)

This story originally appeared on Waging Nonviolence.  A group of prisoners’ rights activists didn’t stop a new isolation unit from being approved on January 13, but they did manage to push through some changes to the proposal, as well as long-overdue limitations to solitary confinement at Rikers Island, New York City’s massive island jail complex. […]

Voices from Solitary: Cycle of Despair

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The following essay was written by Anthony Lamar Davis, who has spent approximately six of his past eleven years in prison in solitary confinement in New York’s “Special Housing Units,” or SHUs. In 2008, New York passed a law restricting the use of solitary on people with serious mental illness. The “SHU Exclusion Law” has removed several hundred […]

Voices from Solitary: A Sentence Worse Than Death

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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 […]

Controversy Erupts at Public Meeting on New Rikers Island Isolation Units

Dakem Roberts, a survivor of solitary confinement on Rikers Island, speaks at a press conference sponsored by the Jails Action Coalition. Photo provided by JAC.

On Friday, December 19th, hundreds packed into the audience at a meeting of the New York City Board of Correction (BOC), the body that oversees New York City’s jail system. At issue was the use of solitary confinement on Rikers Island—specifically, whether to move forward with a new, highly-restrictive Enhanced Supervision Housing unit (ESHU). The […]

Corrections Officer Found Guilty in Death in a Rikers Island Solitary Cell

Ramon Echavarria with a picture of his son, Jason, who died on Rikers Island in 2012. Photo: Howard Simmons, NY Daily News

On December 17, a federal jury found a former corrections officer on New York’s Rikers Island guilty of deliberately ignoring the medical needs of a man who died in 2012 while being held in solitary confinement. Terrence Pendergrass was a captain and the supervising corrections officer on duty when Jason Echevarria, a pre-trial detainee with […]