In Open Letter to President Obama, Groups Push for Solitary Confinement Reforms

More than 100 organizations from across the United States sent an open letter to President Obama Friday calling for the elimination of long-term and indefinite solitary confinement. The signatories – including civil and human rights groups, religious organizations, and groups of defense attorneys and mental health professionals – ask the President to take quick and […]

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

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 […]

Seven Days in Solitary [4/12/2015]

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. • A student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison wrote a piece for the Huffington Post calling for the end of youth solitary in prisons across the country. A bill to end […]

Seven Days in Solitary [3/15/2015]

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. • A US District Judge has ruled in favor of several plaintiffs named in an ongoing class action lawsuit against the use of solitary confinement in California prisons. Incarcerated individuals […]

Audit of Solitary Confinement in Federal Prisons: An Inside Job Reaches Foregone Conclusions

A long-awaited audit of the use of solitary and other forms of isolated confinement in the federal Bureau of Prison (BOP) recommends minor reforms while affirming the overall legitimacy and efficacy of a system that holds more than 10,000 people in extreme isolation. At 242 pages in length, the Federal Bureau of Prisons: Special Housing Unit Review […]

Federal Supermax Prison “in Violation of International Law”: Amnesty International

Many times, on this site and elsewhere, we have referred to supermax prisons and solitary confinement units as “America’s domestic black sites“–places where terrible suffering, even torture, take place on a daily basis, out of site of the public, the press, and in some cases the government’s own meager oversight. At the dark heart of […]

Holder Makes Obama Administration’s First Public Statement on Solitary Confinement

In a weekly video message earlier this month, Attorney General Eric Holder made the first public statement on solitary confinement to emerge from the Obama White House (or, as far as we know, any U.S. presidential administration). A statement accompanying the 3-minute video on the Department of Justice’s website outlines the position taken by Holder–and, by implication, the DOJ […]

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

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, […]

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

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

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: “A Bloody Nightmare”

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 […]