Voices from Solitary: Segregation Medical

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The following account is by Casha Russell, who has spent the past eight months in the segregation unit at Illinois’s Logan Correctional Facility, a women’s prisons three hours south of Chicago. Russell was sentenced to one year in segregation for allegedly burning her wife and co-defendant with hot water. (Both Russell and her wife insist […]

UN Human Rights Experts (Again) Push for Access to U.S. Prisons, Call for Solitary Confinement Reform

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez, has repeatedly asked permission to visit U.S. prisons to report on solitary confinement and other prison conditions.

The United Nations’ top experts on the human rights of people in detention are calling on the United States to open the doors of its prisons to an official visit. Juan E. Méndez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, and Seong-Phil Hong, the Chairperson of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, made the request after President […]

Voices from Solitary: Injury x Insult

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The following is a compilation of writings by Geri Erwin, who is serving 25 years to life on a second-degree murder charge. Erwin is a transgender woman involved in various facets of activism regarding sexual assault in prison, as well as just treatment of incarcerated individuals who are on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. She began her […]

UN’s “Mandela Rules” to Set New International Standards for Treatment of Prisoners, Including Limits on Solitary Confinement

The UN's new standards for the treatment of prisoners are named for Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years behind bars.

The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMRs) are being given several long-awaited revisions this year. Among them is a provision that solitary confinement “shall be used only in exceptional cases as a last resort for as short a time as possible and subject to independent review.” The rules also prohibit […]

Obama, in Criminal Justice Speech, Denounces the “Overuse of Solitary Confinement” in U.S. Prisons

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President Barack Obama said in a speech today that he has asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch to “start a review of the overuse of solitary confinement across American prisons.” He went on to challenge the practice as counterproductive as well as inhumane. In a speech on criminal justice delivered at the annual convention of the […]

Voices from Solitary: Fly in the Ointment

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Peter Collins has been in prison for more than 30 years and is one of Canada’s longest-serving prisoners. He is currently incarcerated at Bath Institution near Kingston, Ontario. Collins is an award-winning human rights activist, writer, artist and peer health educator.  In 2008, he was awarded the Canadian Award for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human […]

Kafka and the Debate Over Solitary Confinement

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Guest Post by Michael B. Mushlin Michael Mushlin, professor at Pace Law School, has a long history of involvement with prisoners rights as a lawyer and legal scholar. He has lectured and published widely on the subject and is author of the four-volume Rights of Prisoners. He serves on the board of the Correctional Association of New York, […]

Irish Court Blocks Suspect’s Extradition to U.S., Citing Risk of Solitary Confinement  

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An Irish court has blocked a U.S. extradition request because of the conditions of solitary confinement the accused could face if sent to the United States. Ireland’s High Court determined there was a real risk that Irish citizen Ali Charaf Damache would be incarcerated at the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum (ADX) in Florence, Colorado, and […]

After Hunger Strikes, Solitary Confinement Reforms Come to California’s Prisons——and Leave Thousands Behind

A corridor in the Pelican Bay SHU, where the hunger strikes began. (Photo: Michael Montgomery/KQED)

Four years ago today, approximately 6,600 people in California prisons launched a hunger strike in protest of long-term solitary confinement. The protest would be the first of three large-scale actions by state prisoners to bring awareness to the issue of long-term solitary confinement. At the epicenter was Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, home of […]

Will Revamped Prison Regulations Reduce Solitary Confinement in California?

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California prison officials have announced a number of changes to state regulations pertaining to the use of solitary confinement and other forms of extreme isolation. The reforms come in the run-up to the fourth year anniversary of the first of three large-scale hunger strikes launched by individuals in the state’s Security Housing Units (SHU) in protest […]