“A Girl Hung Herself Yesterday”: Deaths in Custody at California Institution for Women

Shadae "Dae Dae" Schmidt, who died in CIW's solitary confinement unit in February.

On July 30, 2014, Margarita Murugia was found hanging in her solitary confinement cell at the California Institution for Women (CIW). “She was there for her own protection, not because she did something,” wrote April Harris, a woman currently incarcerated at CIW. ” Apparently her mom was dying of cancer and they refused to let her […]

Santa Was in Prison and Jesus Got the Death Penalty


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. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  […]

Women in Solitary Confinement: Sent to Solitary for Reporting Sexual Assault

Women who report being sexually assaulted by prison staff face abuse and isolation.

It seems absurd that a person who has been sexually assaulted would be punished for speaking up, especially since prison policy prohibits sexual contact between staff and the people whom they guard. Yet, in many women’s prisons, those who report rape and other forms of sexual assault by prison personnel are often sent to solitary […]

Mandela in Solitary


“I found solitary confinement the most forbidding aspect of prison life. There is no end and no beginning; there is only one’s mind, which can begin to play tricks. Was that a dream or did it really happen? One begins to question everything.” –Nelson Mandela, from his 1994 autobiography The Long Walk to Freedom Nelson […]

Voices from Solitary: Your Imagination, But My Reality

Photo Credits: AFSC Prison Watch

The following was written by Troy Hendrix, who is currently serving a life sentence at Elmira Correctional Facility, a maximum security facility located in south central New York State. For the last seven years, Hendrix, 29, has been held in administrative segregation, meaning that he’s in solitary confinement indefinitely. In this powerful piece, Hendrix asks readers […]

Voices from Solitary: Growing Old in Isolation


Shawn Fisher, who is serving a life sentence at Massachusetts Correctional Institution–Shirley, has written to Solitary Watch making the argument that the treatment of many elders in prison is in fact a form of solitary confinement. An organization of lifers in Massachusetts has urged the state legislature to adopt some sort of compassionate leave act that would […]

Suicide in Solitary: The Life and Death of Armando Cruz (Part 1)

Armando Cruz

On September 20, 2011, at 10:55 pm in the Psychiatric Services Unit of California State Prison, Sacramento, a guard was completing his rounds checking on patients in the unit. Locked in solitary confinement, but allowed 10 hours of recreation a week as well as some group activities, prisoners held in these units have been diagnosed […]

Voices from Solitary: A Man’s Strength Behind a Steel Door


The following comes from Georgia inmate Carlos Grier, also known as Mr. BigMann. Grier was convicted in 1999 for the shooting death of a girlfriend (he maintains his innocence). For over two years, he has been incarcerated at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison’s Special Management Unit, where 192 inmates are held in solitary confinement. […]

North Carolina Prisoners Launch Hunger Strike

central prison nc

On July 16th, inmates at Central Prison, Bertie Correctional Institution and Scotland Correctional Institution launched a hunger strike in protest of various prison conditions, including solitary confinement.  North Carolina Department of Corrections currently holds over 7,000 inmates out of approximately 36,000 in “Close Custody.” Among these are inmates are those held in Maximum Control, Protective […]