Pope Francis Denounces Solitary Confinement, Calls for Prison Conditions That “Respect Human Dignity”

Pope Francis washes the feet of youth in a juvenile detention center in March 2013.

In a wide-ranging speech on Thursday, Pope Francis revealed himself as a passionate criminal justice reformer. His words also suggest that he is familiar with the controversies surrounding solitary confinement and supermax prisons, and strongly opposes their use. Speaking at the Vatican to representatives of the International Association of Penal Law, the Pope said: “All Christians and people […]

Seven Days in Solitary [3/9/14]

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. • Gawker published a letter from Ray Jasper, who is scheduled to be put to death by the state of Texas on March 19.  With regards to solitary confinement he […]

Santa Was in Prison and Jesus Got the Death Penalty

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This post has become a Christmas tradition at Solitary Watch. To all our readers, warm wishes for the holidays. Special thanks to those who have helped us bring a small ray of light into the darkness of solitary confinement by supporting our Lifelines to Solitary project. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  […]

Pat Nolan’s Evangelical Prison Reform

Pat Nolan

When it comes to Washington politics, a handful of congressman lead the way in shaping prison reform. At the forefront of this movement are John Conyers, Michigan’s ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee; Bobby Scott, Virginia’s indefatigable opponent of solitary confinement; and Cedric Richmond, who, as a member of the Louisiana legislature, has spoken out […]

Voices from Solitary: “Death Row Diary” of Florida Man Scheduled to Die Tonight

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William Van Poyck, 58 years old and on death row at the Florida State Prison in Starke, is scheduled to die at the hands of the state tonight at 7 pm. In 1987 he was convicted of murdering prison guard Fred Griffis in a failed jailbreak attempt. Poyck has spent nearly 26 years on death row […]

Santa Was in Prison and Jesus Got the Death Penalty

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This post has become a Christmas tradition at Solitary Watch. To all our readers, warm wishes for the holidays. As Christmas is celebrated in Incarceration Nation, it’s worth remembering certain things about the two figures who dominate this holiday. As more than 3,000 Americans sit on death row, we revere the birth of a man who […]

Connecticut Votes to Replace the Death Penalty with Life in Solitary Confinement

Late yesterday, the Connecticut Assembly passed legislation to bring an end to the state’s future use of the death penalty. The governor has promised to sign the legislation, making Connecticut the 17th state to repeal capital punishment. This is, of course, a significant victory for death penalty opponents. But the legislation has two troubling components. The first is […]

Santa Was in Prison and Jesus Got the Death Penalty

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As Christmas is celebrated in Incarceration Nation, it’s worth remembering certain things about the two figures who dominate this holiday. As more than 3,000 Americans sit on death row, we revere the birth of a godly man who was arrested, “tried,” sentenced, and put to death by the state. The Passion is the story of […]

Voices from Solitary: Hank Skinner’s Dispatches from Texas Death Row

Today, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted a stay of execution to Hank Skinner, to allow for the testing of DNA evidence which Skinner says could cast doubt on his guilt. Skinner was scheduled to be executed two days from now, on November 9. In March of last year, Skinner came within a half-hour of execution before […]

Texas Prepares to Execute Hank Skinner Without Testing DNA

Update: On Monday afternoon, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stayed Skinner’s execution to review how changes in the state law on DNA testing requests affect cases like Skinner’s. Our piece on Hank Skinner, who is scheduled to be executed in Texas this Wednesday, appears today over at Mother Jones. “Any time DNA evidence can […]