In California Prisons, Hundreds Have Been Removed from Solitary Confinement———and Thousands Remain

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It has been over three years since the first statewide hunger strike in protest of the California prison systems’ use of solitary confinement. The hunger strike, the first of many to follow, was launched by individuals housed in the state’s Security Housing Units (SHUs). The hunger strikes prompted state Legislative hearings, international scrutiny, and some […]

Solitary Not Yet Over at Rikers, But Advocates Keep Fighting

Members of the Jails Action Coalition after the New York City Board of Correction hearing on January 13. (Photo: WNV/Nick Malinowski)

This story originally appeared on Waging Nonviolence.  A group of prisoners’ rights activists didn’t stop a new isolation unit from being approved on January 13, but they did manage to push through some changes to the proposal, as well as long-overdue limitations to solitary confinement at Rikers Island, New York City’s massive island jail complex. […]

New Federal Supermax Prison Will Double Capacity for Extreme Solitary Confinement

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Amid growing controversy around the use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and jails, and in advance of an audit of its own prison “segregation” practices, the federal government is quietly moving ahead with a plan that would significantly increase its capacity to house individuals in long-term isolation. The 2015 Omnibus Appropriations bill passed by […]

For Solitary Confinement in U.S. Prisons, A Year of Incremental Reform

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As the year ended, The Marshall Project provided a comprehensive roundup of reforms to solitary confinement practices across the country. Eli Hager and Gerald Rich write: “In 2014 one of the most controversial practices in criminal justice, solitary confinement, faced unprecedented challenges. As a result of legislation or lawsuits, ten states adopted 14 measures aimed at […]

Voices from Solitary: Cycle of Despair

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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 […]

Dear Solitary Watchers…

Holiday Card - Lifelines to Solitary 2015 - Art by Five Mualimm-ak, survivor of 5 years in solitary confinement.

Dear Solitary Watchers: We reach out directly to our readers with an appeal for support once a year, and only for a very special part of our work. Throughout the year, while we carry out research and reporting on the human rights crisis hiding in plain sight, Solitary Watch also reaches out directly to over […]

Voices from Solitary: A Sentence Worse Than Death

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William Blake has been in solitary confinement for 27 years. When he was 23 years old and in county court on a drug charge, Blake murdered one deputy and wounded another in a failed escape attempt. He was sentenced to 77 years to life.  This essay earned Blake an Honorable Mention in the Yale Law Journal’s Prison […]

Santa Was in Prison and Jesus Got the Death Penalty

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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 (or plan to help) us bring a small ray of light into the darkness of solitary confinement by supporting our Lifelines to Solitary project. –Jim & Jean .  .  .  .  […]

Controversy Erupts at Public Meeting on New Rikers Island Isolation Units

Dakem Roberts, a survivor of solitary confinement on Rikers Island, speaks at a press conference sponsored by the Jails Action Coalition. Photo provided by JAC.

On Friday, December 19th, hundreds packed into the audience at a meeting of the New York City Board of Correction (BOC), the body that oversees New York City’s jail system. At issue was the use of solitary confinement on Rikers Island—specifically, whether to move forward with a new, highly-restrictive Enhanced Supervision Housing unit (ESHU). The […]

Under Fire for Negligence, North Carolina Prisons Chief Seeks New Funding for Mental Health Treatment

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North Carolina corrections chief David Guice wants more than $20 million to improve the treatment of people with mental illness in the state’s prisons. His request comes on the heels of two recent reports showing neglect and abuse of prisoners with psychiatric disabilities in North Carolina, and the death in custody of one such individual, […]