In Virginia's Prisons, Hundreds Still Trapped in Solitary Confinement Despite Reforms — and Denials

In 2016, the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) announced it had significantly reduced its use of solitary confinement, particularly in the state’s two supermax facilities, Red Onion and Wallens Ridge. The reforms were welcome news: Five years earlier, the Washington Post reported that five percent of people in Virginia’s prisons were in solitary, including more […]

Seven Days in Solitary [6/10/18]

• The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that a 48-year-old man, Dan Vasalech, has been placed in solitary confinement in the Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh for a remark he made criticizing the administration’s decision to lock down the jail so that the corrections officers could attend the funeral of a recently deceased officer. Vasalech received a […]

Seven Days in Solitary [5/20/18]

• The Charlotte Observer reported that 39-year-old Kenneth Wayne Bigham committed suicide only days after being placed in solitary confinement at Mecklenburg County Jail in North Carolina, where no visitors, phone calls, or books are allowed, with the exception of religious material. A spokesperson for the NC ACLU said, “This tragedy is a terrible reminder […]

Seven Days in Solitary [4/15/18]

• Disability Rights Oregon (DRO) published a report following up on a previous report that they released in May 2015, which revealed the Oregon State Penitentiary has been holding about 40 severely mentally ill individuals in solitary confinement at the Behavioral Health Unit, isolated in their cells for at least 23 hours a day. After […]

Seven Days in Solitary [4/1/18]

• The Boston Globe reported that individuals held at MCI-Norfolk in Massachusetts organized a hunger strike against the facility’s contaminated water last month. Wayland Coleman, an incarcerated man at MCI-Norfolk, acquired and distributed bottled water to others, and was subsequently placed in solitary confinement because officials claimed that the water was a valuable item that “could potentially […]

Seven Days in Solitary [3/25/18]

• In These Times reported on the Operation PUSH labor strikes across Florida prisons that began on January 15 of this year, organizing against what they say is the brutality of Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) officers, poor living conditions, and unfair labor practices. Many of the participants in the work stoppage, according to the […]

Voices from Solitary: Returned to the SHU in California

In 2013, tens of thousands of people incarcerated throughout California launched a hunger strike to protest the polices of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) around indefinite isolation in solitary confinement (also known as indeterminate sentences). The strike lasted nearly 60 days and ended only after state lawmakers promised to hold hearings around […]

Seven Days in Solitary [2/25/18]

• The Washington Post reported that federal judge Leonie M. Brinkema ruled unconstitutional the state of Virginia’s practice of placing death row individuals in solitary confinement. In 2015, Virginia allegedly stopped placing individuals with death sentences in solitary confinement, but the state had refused to maintain this prohibition. However, Brinkema, the first federal judge to determine […]

Seven Days in Solitary [2/18/18]

• According to the Alabama Political Reporter, Federal District Judge Myron Thompson last week ordered the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) to either remove individuals with serious mental illness from solitary confinement or provide a reason for their placement in solitary. Thompson ruled last summer that mental health care in the Alabama prison system was […]

Seven Days in Solitary [2/11/18]

• The new film Cruel and Unusual is the story of the Angola 3—Robert King, Herman Wallace, and Albert Woodfox, who collectively endured more than 100 years in solitary confinement in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola (and whose story helped inspire us to launch Solitary Watch eight years ago). The feature-length documentary tells a story of […]

Seven Days in Solitary [2/4/18]

• In a Joint Budget Hearing on Public Protection in Albany, New York, on January 30, New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera asked Acting Corrections Commissioner Anthony Annucci a question regarding the New York’s use of solitary confinement. Rivera referred to Colorado corrections chief Rick Raemisch, who four years ago spent 24 hours in solitary […]

New York Supermax

Imagine row after row of cell doors that rarely open and row after row of people trapped behind those doors, in small cells, day after day. Imagine having to hold most of your conversations by shouting through your cell door at voices whose faces you cannot see; imagine trying to sleep as a cacophony of […]