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

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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 Lawsuit Challenges Brutality in Solitary Confinement Unit at North Carolina Prison


Lawyers at North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services have filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of eight people held in solitary confinement at Central Prison against officers and administrators at the facility. As reported by the Associated Press: A federal lawsuit on behalf of eight inmates at North Carolina’s Central Prison alleges correctional officers used “blind spots” out of view of security cameras […]

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


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 […]

Guantanamo “Is Not an Aberration”: How the War on Terror Came Home

An important new article by Laura Rovner and Jeanne Theoharis appears in the current issue of American University Law Review. Both Rovner and Theoharis have been deeply involved in the issue of solitary confinement: As director of the Civil Rights Clinic and the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, Rovner has overseen several challenges in the federal courts […]

Solitary Confinement on Trial in Colorado

Our latest piece over at Mother Jones concerns an important trial beginning today in Federal District Court in Denver, in which a prisoner with mental illness is challenging more than a decade in solitary confinement in the Colorado State Penitentiary. Also included is background on the groundbreaking work of the University of Denver’s Civil Rights Clinic; on […]

Decision of Federal Judge Frees Prisoner from Solitary Confinement

“Prison walls do not form a barrier separating prison inmates from the protections of the Constitution,” wrote Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, quoting the U.S. Supreme Court, when she ruled last week that a federal prisoner should be released from solitary confinement. On February 24, Scheindlin, a U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York, ordered […]

New Resources on Solitary Confinement

Now available in our Resources section is a unique collection of U.S. court cases relevant to solitary confinement. This collection was compiled and annotated by Solitary Watch Research Associates Daniel H. Goldman and Ryan Brimmer. They are students at the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse, Washington & Lee University School of Law, which is our lead […]

The Prisoner’s Catch-22

Guest Post by Alan CYA #65085 Editors’ Note: We’ve written before about two laws from the 1990s that make it close to impossible for prisoners to challenge any injustices and abuses they encounter in various part of the American criminal justice system—whether in the courts or in prison itself. This guest post on the subject […]

“Extradition to a Future of Total Isolation” Opposed by British Human Rights Lawyer

A reader recently called our attention to an long piece in the London Review of Books by Gareth Peirce, a British solicitor known for taking on high-profile–and often controversial–human rights cases. In the 1993 film In the Name of the Father, Peirce, played by Emma Thompson, is shown defending a group of Irish men wrongly […]

The End of Mississippi’s Notorious Supermax Unit

Even in a nation known for its draconian prison conditions and brutal lockdown units, the supermax portion of Mississippi’s state penitentiary stood out.  Critics and residents described it as a “horrific” and “wretched” place of “hopelessness and despair.” Or, as Chris Joyner described it last week in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger:   Unit 32 was a nightmare, if sworn […]