New Solitary Confinement Policies in California Bring Small Changes and Raise Big Questions

PelicanBay-SHUcell2

The latest and largest of three hunger strikes in California prisons began nearly a year ago, on July 8, 2013.  The strike brought international attention to California’s liberal use of indefinite solitary confinement and resulted in legislative hearings and the introduction of bills to curb solitary in both houses of the California state legislature. (Only one […]

The Odyssey to Pelican Bay: Families Journey to California’s Notorious Supermax Prison

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On Memorial Day weekend, close to a hundred visitors traveled by plane, train, bus, and car to Pelican Bay State Prison. The long weekend, with the prospect of not having to rush back to work on Monday morning, meant that relatives could make the expensive, lengthy trip to the Northern-most tip of California, where a cluster […]

Seven Days in Solitary [12/29/13]

Solitary confinement news roundup: 7 Days in Solitary

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. • The Denver Post publishes an editorial in support of providing people who are held in administrative segregation at the Colorado State Penitentiary with outdoor exercise. Noting that a lawsuit has […]

How Many People Are In Solitary Confinement in California’s Prisons?

ASU Population as reported through COMPSTAT in October 2012 and September 2013.

With the considerable attention focused on solitary confinement in California, Solitary Watch has observed inconsistent and widely varied statistics provided on the number of individuals housed in solitary in the state. We have reviewed and compiled statistics reported monthly by each prison through the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) COMPSTAT reports (Computer Statistics […]

Federal Bureau of Prisons Details Plans for Limited “Audit” of Solitary Confinement Practices

A cell at ADX Florence federal supermax, where individuals may spend years or decades in extreme solitary confinement.

Last week, representatives of six nonprofit organizations critical of solitary confinement met in a closed-door meeting in Washington, D.C., with the team hired to conduct an internal audit of the federal Bureau of Prisons’ controversial “segregation” policies. The idea for an audit came out of Senator Dick Durbin’s June 2012 Senate hearing on solitary confinement, […]

Voices from Solitary: Welcome to the SHU

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Karl ChuJoy is currently serving three years in solitary confinement in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) of Elmira Correctional Facility in upstate New York, for possessing a laptop computer. He writes in a letter to Solitary Watch: “I’ve been incarcerated since I was fifteen (15) years old. I am now thirty-six (36)…I’m halfway through these three (3) […]

Voices from Solitary: Solitary Confinement’s Invisible Scars

Solitary confinement cell in a New York state prison.

The following comes from our friend and colleague Five Omar Mualimm-ak, who works for prison reform in New York with the American Friends Service Committee, Campaign to End the New Jim Crow, New York City Jails Action Coalition, and New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement, among other groups. He served twelve years in […]

Seven Days in Solitary [10/20/13]

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. • The Seattle Times reports on a new program for prisoners with mental illness who are held in isolation at Washington’s Monroe Correctional Complex. According to the story, “The new Reintegration and […]

Videos Show Abuse of Mentally Ill in California Prisons

Solitary confinement at Corcoran SHU

Videos of California prison guards pumping pepper spray into the cells of prisoners – some of whom were naked and screaming, all of whom suffer from mental illness – and then forcibly extracting them from their cells were shown at trial in a federal court room in Sacramento on Tuesday. The trial, part of a federal case […]

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 […]