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Doing “Bing Time”: Memories of a Mental Health Worker in Rikers Island’s Solitary Confinement Unit

A cell in Rikers Island's Central Punitive Segregation Unit.

The following post is a chapter from an unpublished book by Mary Buser, who worked in various capacities in the mental health system on Rikers Island. In Buser’s own words: “I worked in the Rikers Mental Health Department as a psychiatric social worker for five and a half years, leaving Rikers in 2000. I started off as a student intern […]

Prison Health Care: Is the American Health Profession Ignoring a Human Rights Issue Hiding in Plain Sight?

red cross prison

 The following essay appeared as a guest post on the “Speaking of Medicine” blog published by PLOS (Public Library of Science.) There are 2.3 million people in US prisons in conditions that are often inhumane and at worst life threatening. An estimated 80,000 of US prisoners are locked up in solitary confinement, which means in […]

Solitary Confinement: Too Controversial for Costco

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Editors’ Note: Back in October, Solitary Watch received a request from cut-rate retail giant Costco, for a 450-word essay arguing that solitary should be eliminated. The piece was to be printed in the “Informed Debate” feature in the company’s giveaway magazine, Costco Connection, which has a readership numbering 20 million people. Pleased that such a large […]

Women in Solitary Confinement: Sent to Solitary for Reporting Sexual Assault

Women who report being sexually assaulted by prison staff face abuse and isolation.

It seems absurd that a person who has been sexually assaulted would be punished for speaking up, especially since prison policy prohibits sexual contact between staff and the people whom they guard. Yet, in many women’s prisons, those who report rape and other forms of sexual assault by prison personnel are often sent to solitary […]

Women in Solitary Confinement: “The Isolation Degenerates Us Into Madness”

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A mass prisoner hunger strike rocked California’s prison system this past summer, drawing international attention to the extensive use of solitary confinement in the United States. Increasingly, solitary is finding its way into the mainstream media and onto activist agendas. Nearly all of the attention, however, has focused on solitary confinement in men’s prisons; much less is known about the […]

How Many People Are In Solitary Confinement in California’s Prisons?

ASU Population as reported through COMPSTAT in October 2012 and September 2013.

With the considerable attention focused on solitary confinement in California, Solitary Watch has observed inconsistent and widely varied statistics provided on the number of individuals housed in solitary in the state. We have reviewed and compiled statistics reported monthly by each prison through the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) COMPSTAT reports (Computer Statistics […]

Voices from Solitary: “Finally Out and Among the Living”

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This essay by John Jay Powers was published by the Colorado Independent, with the following introductory note by editor Susan Greene. Greene has corresponded with Powers for years, and included him in her multimedia investigation of solitary confinement, The Gray Box. “Jack Powers is an inmate in the federal Bureau of Prisons convicted of bank robbery and escaping from prison. […]

In States That “Reduce” Their Use of Solitary Confinement, Suffering Continues for Those Left Behind

A cell in the supermax unit at Maine State Prison. Photo by Lance Tapley.

Under pressure from activists, lawsuits, and even a few reformers within the corrections system, several states have significantly reduced the number of people they hold in solitary confinement in their prison systems. These reductions, achieved largely through “reclassifying” prisoners and returning the least troublesome ones to the general population, have rightly been celebrated by opponents […]

Under Fire, the Federal Bureau of Prisons Audits Its Use of Solitary Confinement——and Buys a New Supermax Prison

Solitary confinement cells at ADX Florence, the federal supermax in Colorado.

Amidst growing criticism of its abundant use solitary confinement, the federal Bureau of Prisons has quietly set in motion an “internal audit” to review its “restricted housing operations.” The audit, which has been contracted out to a Washington think tank and will be conducted largely by former corrections officials, seems unlikely to bring any dramatic change […]

Seven Days in Solitary [9/8/13]

Pictured: 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. • According to the tally kept by the Miami Herald, 22 of the 166 men held captive at Guantanamo are engaged in a hunger strike, with 20 being force-fed. This week marks […]