Voices from Solitary: Cycle of Despair

The following essay was written by Anthony Lamar Davis, who has spent approximately six of his past eleven years in prison in solitary confinement in New York’s “Special Housing Units,” or SHUs. In 2008, New York passed a law restricting the use of solitary on people with serious mental illness. The “SHU Exclusion Law” has removed several hundred […]

Voices from Solitary: Is It Normal to Think That?

This following piece was written by Scott Van Bergen, who is currently being held at Southport Correctional Facility, a supermax prison in Pine City, New York, where about 700 men are held in isolation in the “Special Housing Units,” or SHUs. It was written in response to an article in a recent Solitary Watch newsletter on efforts by advocates to bring […]

Voices from Solitary: At War With My Own Self

This following account was written by Anthony Lamar Davis, 34, who has been incarcerated for 11 years of a 22-year sentence. He has spent more than six of those years in solitary confinement. In New York State prisons, about 13,000 sentences to solitary confinement in the Special Housing Units, or SHUs, are handed out each year, most […]

Voices from Solitary: Cruel and Unusual Punishment for Transgender Women

Dee Dee is a transgender woman serving a sentence of 60 years to life in New York State, where she has been held in men’s prisons. After being raped twice in general population, she was placed in solitary confinement “for her own protection,” in conditions virtually identical to those used for punishment. In this letter to […]

“Disappearing” the Disadvantaged Into Prison, and Into Solitary Confinement

Guest Post by Terry Kupers Dr. Terry Kupers is one of the nation’s leading experts on the psychological effects of prison isolation. A psychiatrist with a background in psychoanalytic psychotherapy, forensics and social and community psychiatry, he is on the faculty of the Wright Institute in Berkeley. The following is a brief excerpt from a chapter […]

Voices from Solitary: The Torture Chamber

The following was written by Carlos Marsh, who spent 22 months in the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) at Pleasant Valley State Prison between 2004 and 2006. His brother is currently incarcerated at Calipatria State Prison and has participated in the current hunger strike. Paralyzed from the chest down since he was 13 following a shooting, […]

Seven Days in Solitary [6/16/13]

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, 104 of the 166 men held captive at Guantanamo are now on hunger strike, with 44 being force-fed and two hospitalized. The Miami Herald also […]

New Video: Dr. Terry Kupers on Solitary Confinement and Mental Health

Dr. Terry Kupers, Institute Professor at the Wright Institute in San Francisco and Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, is among the foremost national experts on the mental health effects of solitary confinement. Dr. Kupers delivered the keynote address at the Strategic Convening on Solitary Confinement and Human Rights, sponsored by the Midwest […]

Voices from Solitary: Disciplined Into Madness and Death

The following essay comes from Sara Rodrigues, formerly imprisoned at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison for women in Westchester, New York, and now further upstate at Albion. When Sara was sent to prison at the age of 16, she found her friend D there as well. Both Sara and D had life-long struggles with mental health, and […]

Scarred by Solitary: Experiencing Prison Isolation As a Kid

The following commentary is by Enceno Macy, the pen name of a young man who is serving a 15-year sentence in a West Coast prison. From the ages of 13 to 17, he experienced solitary confinement as a juvenile in three different settings: juvenile detention, jail, and state prison. Solitary Watch encouraged him to write about […]