Seven Days in Solitary [8/31/14]

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. • A federal judge approved the state of California’s plan to reduce the solitary confinement of prisoners suffering from mental illness. According to a recent story in The New York […]

New Solitary Confinement Policies in California Bring Small Changes and Raise Big Questions

PelicanBay-SHUcell2

The latest and largest of three hunger strikes in California prisons began nearly a year ago, on July 8, 2013.  The strike brought international attention to California’s liberal use of indefinite solitary confinement and resulted in legislative hearings and the introduction of bills to curb solitary in both houses of the California state legislature. (Only one […]

Seven Days in Solitary [6/29/14]

Solitary confinement news roundup: 7 Days in Solitary

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. • On the Pacifica Evening News, religious leaders, families of people in prison, and state prison officials went on air to discuss the issue of solitary confinement. • Writing for Pacific Standard […]

Seven Days in Solitary [4/13/14]

Solitary confinement news roundup: 7 Days in Solitary

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 California judge has ruled that the state’s prisons violated the Constitution by using excess force against people with mental illness. State officials will now be required to make […]

Videos Show Abuse of Mentally Ill in California Prisons

Solitary confinement at Corcoran SHU

Videos of California prison guards pumping pepper spray into the cells of prisoners – some of whom were naked and screaming, all of whom suffer from mental illness – and then forcibly extracting them from their cells were shown at trial in a federal court room in Sacramento on Tuesday. The trial, part of a federal case […]

Seven Days in Solitary [9/29/13]

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. • Reporting on the 1972 trial of Herman Wallace, the outcome of which landed him in solitary confinement for over four decades, The Atlantic writes on the meaning of Wallace’s life […]

Day 59 of California Prison Hunger Strike: “Their Spirits Are High, Their Bodies Are Weak”

Starvation affects every part of your body and will make you weak and vulnerable to infections. The function of all your cells and organs will decline. Your skin may become fragile and you are likely to develop uncomfortable sores, particularly in the mouth and bony pressure points. You may feel very cold and experience constipation […]

California Prison Hunger Strikers to Be Force-Fed

A force-feeding chair at Guantanamo.

Robert Lowell called it “man’s lovely, peculiar power to choose life and die”–the ability of human beings to give their lives willingly in service of a cause greater than their individual selves. But the state of California, with the approval of a federal judge, now has license to deny even this last, most desperate human right […]

30 Days of Hunger Striking, California Prisons Chief Insists It’s “Gang Power Play”

Self-Portrait of Billy Sell, who committed suicide on July 22nd
Courtesy Prisoner Express - www.prisonerexpress.org / Gary Fine, Assistant Director, Durland Alternatives Library, Cornell University

As of Monday, there were 415 California prisoners in seven facilities on hunger strike. Of them, 244 have been on hunger strike since July 8th, making this hunger strike the longest of the three statewide hunger strikes that California prisoners have launched demanding the “Five Core Demands.” California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) spokesperson […]

Hundreds Still on Hunger Strike in California Prisons As Situation Becomes Increasingly Dire

J.-Heshima-Denham-after-hunger-strike-0711-headshot-web

Nearly one year ago, J. Heshima Denham, who is being held in solitary confinement at Corcoran State Prison’s Security Housing Unit, told Solitary Watch: “The reality is there is a significant number of us for whom death holds no real fear, in fact, in some ways—as an alternative to another few decades of this—it holds some appeal. […]