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New York City’s New Corrections Chief, Known for Solitary Confinement Reforms, Faces Steep Challenges on Rikers Island

New York City's new Commissioner of Correction, Joseph Ponte, with NYPD chief Bill Bratton and Mayor Bill DeBlasio.

In March, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed reformer Joseph Ponte as the Commissioner of the Department of Correction. In his last post, overseeing Maine’s Department of Corrections, Ponte gained particular renown for reducing the use of solitary confinement by over 60 percent. In fact, the changes he helped bring about in Maine […]

Voices from Solitary: Analyzing Isolation, Part I

ADX Florence, Florence Colarado

This post is the next in a series of pieces Solitary Watch is publishing as part of a project calling for people held in solitary confinement to write on various proposed themes. Our second suggested theme, “Analyzing Isolation,” calls for writers to provide their analyses of solitary, discussing ways in which the practice is counterproductive.  […]

Seven Days in Solitary [4/20/2014]

Solitary confinement news roundup

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. • April 17 marked Albert Woodfox’s 42nd year in solitary confinement. Woodfox, a member of the Angola 3, remains locked up even though his sentence has been overturned three times. […]

Voices from Solitary: Double Celling

five shaquille

The following piece was jointly written by Five Mualimm-ak and Shaquille Mualimm-ak, who are father and son. Five Mualimm-ak is now a prison reform activist and director of the Incarcerated Nation Campaign. While incarcerated in New York State prisons, he spent five years in solitary confinement for nonviolent disciplinary infractions, and has written previously about […]

UN Investigator Says Long-Term Solitary Confinement in New York State Prisons Is Torture

A New York State SHU cell.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Méndez has concluded that the state of New York violated the rights of three incarcerated men “to be free from torture” by locking them up them in long-term solitary confinement.  The findings, which were submitted to the UN Human Rights Council last month, were published alongside similar “observations” […]

Voices from Solitary: “Mind Blowing Because I’m a Kid”

hands

The following comes from Joe (pseudonym), a minor who has been incarcerated since last summer, held in solitary confinement for over six months. In his letter to Solitary Watch, he describes his life on 23-hour-a-day lockdown in a jail where he has no access to any rehabilitation or other programs, classes or church. He recounts in detail in his letter […]

Voices from Solitary: Unnatural Disaster

lewisburg2

This piece was written by Tewhan Butler, whose blog is featured on the site Live from Lockdown. A former Bloods leader, he is 11 years into a 30-year sentence in federal prison on RICO charges. Since beginning his sentence, Butler has been in and out of solitary confinement in a series of prisons.  In 2010, Butler […]

Voices from Solitary: A Day in the Life, Part V

A Prisoner Describes His Torture

This post is the next in a series of pieces Solitary Watch is publishing as part of a project calling for people held in solitary confinement to write on various proposed themes. Our first suggested theme, “A Day in the Life,” calls for writers to describe a day in his or her life in solitary confinement (read previous […]

Severely Disabled Man Sues New York State Prisons for Neglect, Abuse

Five Points Correctional Facility in Upstate New York.

At a time when New York State is winning praise for removing vulnerable people from solitary confinement in its prisons, the case of Mark Gizewski offers a sobering counterpoint. Although he suffers from extreme physical disabilities and lives with constant pain, Gizewski has been in and out of solitary confinement for various prison rule violations. […]

Voices from Solitary: A Day in the Life, Part IV

Kenny Zulu Whitmore holding the autobiography of Angola Three member Robert Hillary King

This post is the next in a series of pieces Solitary Watch is publishing as part of a project calling for people held in solitary confinement to write on various proposed themes. Our first suggested theme, ”A Day in the Life,” calls for writers to describe a day in his or her life in solitary confinement (read previous […]