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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. […]

“This Draconian System of Punishment and Abuse”: An Interview with Former Political Prisoner Ray Luc Levasseur

Photo copyright Matthew Robbins, from the Portland Phoenix.

The following is a partial transcript of an interview with Ray Luc Levasseur, a former political prisoner who spent over fifteen years in solitary confinement, primarily at USP Marion and ADX Florence. Levasseur was raised in Maine, born to a working-class family of Quebecois origin. He became politically radicalized about race and class at a […]

Voices from Solitary: “A Prison Where the Building Becomes the Shackles”

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Former political prisoner Ray Luc Levasseur was raised in Maine, born to a working-class family of Quebecois origin. He became politically radicalized at a young age, first after serving a term of duty in Vietnam, and again after spending two years in a Tennessee prison.  In 1986, Ray Luc Levasseur was convicted for militant activities conducted […]

Federal Bureau of Prisons Details Plans for Limited “Audit” of Solitary Confinement Practices

A cell at ADX Florence federal supermax, where individuals may spend years or decades in extreme solitary confinement.

Last week, representatives of six nonprofit organizations critical of solitary confinement met in a closed-door meeting in Washington, D.C., with the team hired to conduct an internal audit of the federal Bureau of Prisons’ controversial “segregation” policies. The idea for an audit came out of Senator Dick Durbin’s June 2012 Senate hearing on solitary confinement, […]

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 […]

Inside ADX Supermax, Part 1: “A Bloody Nightmare”

Harold Cunningham

In June 2012, a federal lawsuit was filed by eleven prisoners at the United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX Florence) against the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The facility houses approximately 450 men from across the country in solitary confinement units. The lawsuit alleges that inmates diagnosed with mental illnesses are denied constitutionally adequate […]

Seven Days in Solitary [6/16/13]

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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. •  According to the tally kept by The Miami Herald, 104 of the 166 men held captive at Guantanamo are now on hunger strike, with 44 being force-fed and two hospitalized. The Miami Herald also […]

Judge Refuses to Dismiss Federal Supermax Lawsuits

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Andrew Cohen continues his coverage for the Atlantic of two potentially groundbreaking lawsuits directed at the treatment of those incarcerated in the notorious ADX Florence, where about 400 men live in extreme isolation and sensory deprivation for years or decades. Today he reports on a federal judge’s decision to allow the lawsuits to proceed, rejecting the […]

Obama’s 2014 Budget Confirms Plans for “ADX Thomson,” New Federal Supermax Prison

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The Obama Administration’s 2014 budget request for the Department of Justice, released this week, confirms that the federal government will open a second ultra-secure supermax prison within the next two years. The new prison will be an “Administrative Maximum U.S. Penitentiary.” Administrative Maximum is a security classification currently held only by the notorious ADX Florence in Colorado, where […]

“Millennium Bomber,” Scarred by 12 Years in Solitary, Is Sentenced to 37 More

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A federal judge this week decried the effects of solitary confinement on a prisoner convicted on terrorism-related charges, who has spent 12 years inside ADX Florence supermax. The same judge then proceeded to sentence the prisoner in question to 37 more years, which will most likely be spent in the same torturous conditions. But these […]