Voices from Solitary: “I Live Each Day Contemplating Death”

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The following comes from Toby Chavez, currently in solitary confinement at the Penitentiary of New Mexico. He is serving a life sentence for first degree murder and armed robbery, a conviction he is appealing, and will be eligible for parole after 30 years. Chavez has been incarcerated since 1999, and has spent over a decade […]

A Month in Solitary [8/31/13]

Pictured: Solitary confinement cell

The following roundup features noteworthy news, reports and opinions on solitary confinement from the past month that have not been covered in other Solitary Watch posts. • According to the tally kept by the Miami Herald, 35 of the 166 men held captive at Guantanamo are engaged in a hunger strike, with 32 being force-fed and one hospitalized. Most […]

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

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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. […]

Seven Days in Solitary [7/21/13]

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. •  According to the tally kept by The Miami Herald, 70 of the 166 men held captive at Guantanamo are hunger-striking, with 46 being force-fed and three hospitalized. Al Jazeera reports that the parole […]

Voices from Solitary: This Place Is Nothing More Than a Torture Chamber

Pelican Bay State Prison

The following was written by Tony, 35, who is engaged in the statewide hunger strike against long-term solitary confinement and related issues at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California. Incarcerated sine he was nineteen years old, he has been in the Security Housing Units (SHU) for over nine years, longer than the average […]

Faces and Voices of the California Prison Hunger Strike

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Today the massive California prison hunger strike enters its third day. Below are six individuals in Pelican Bay State Prison and Corcoran State Prison SHUs.  All have been held in the SHU for over a decade, and participated in the previous two hunger strikes. All have indicated their intention to participate in this July 8th […]

Judge Rules California Solitary Confinement Lawsuit Should Have Its Day in Court

Pelican Bay "exercise" yard, © Richard Ross, from "Architecture of Authority"

On Thursday, March 14th, U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken denied a motion by the state of California to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights against long term solitary confinement in the California prison system. The lawsuit, filed on May 31st, 2012, argues that California’s segregation of “gang-validated” prisoners in Security Housing […]

Voices from Solitary: “Where Cold, Quiet and Emptiness Come Together”

Pelican Bay SHU

The following entry was submitted by California Prison Focus on behalf of Cesar Francisco Villa, 51, a “gang-validated” prisoner incarcerated in Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit (SHU). For eleven years, he has been held in solitary confinement in the SHU, subject to an indefinite term in solitary because, he says, he isn’t a […]

California Assembly Reviews Solitary Confinement Policies As Prisoners Threaten New Hunger Strike

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On Monday, February 25th, the California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee, chaired by Assembly Member Tom Ammiano, held a hearing on the state’s Security Housing Units (SHUs). The hearing comes 18 months after the committee held a similar hearing prompted by  a three-week long hunger strike in June 2011 that involved thousands of California prisoners across […]

As California Implements Some Solitary Confinement Reforms, Prisoners Remain Skeptical

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Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times reported that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) had begun the process of implementing reforms the Department has crafted over the past year addressing the long-term solitary confinement of gang members in the California prison system. California currently holds over 3,000 inmates in segregation units due […]