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 […]

Kalief Browder’s Life and Death Galvanize Action to End Solitary Confinement

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Three weeks ago, a young African American man from the Bronx took his own life. The impact of Kalief Browder’s suicide has been felt at the city, state, and even federal levels, and may be felt far into the future. Browder’s story, in which he was held on Rikers Island for three years beginning at […]

Supreme Court Justice Kennedy Denounces “Human Toll” of Solitary Confinement and Invites Constitutional Challenge

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Guest Post by Samuel Weiss and Amy Fettig Samuel Weiss is Ford Foundation Fellow at the ACLU’s Center for Justice. Amy Fettig is Senior Staff Counsel at the ACLU’s National Prison Project. In March, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was testifying before the House Appropriations Subcommittee when he received a question on prison overcrowding. He responded […]

Voices from Solitary: Phantom Souls

[LIFE AT TAMMS ]ADVANCE FOR SUNDAY MARCH 8--FILE-A cell block at the new Tamms Correctional Center in Tamms, Ill., is shown on Feb. 3, 1998, when the facility was dedicated. Illinois' newest and toughest state prison has been designed to isolate the worst inmates from the rest of Illinois' 41,000 prisoners and break them of their violent habits through strict isolation. Tamms will be accepting the first handful of its 500 inmates beginning Monday, March 9, and expects to be at full capacity by the summer. (AP Photo/Mark Christian)

Fifteen years ago, Gerard G. Schultz, Jr., now 38, was convicted of murder in Phoenix, Arizona. He is serving a life sentence and has been in solitary since 2008, when he was transferred from Arizona to Illinois under the Interstate Corrections Compact. In Illinois, he was placed in Tamms Supermax Prison until it was closed […]

Seven Days in Solitary [6/7/15]

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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. • A New Jersey bill hopes to reduce the limits on solitary confinement to no more than two days in a row for 15-year-olds, no more than three for those […]

New Report Highlights 10 Destructive Myths About Solitary Confinement

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As the first in a planned series of reports, the Vera Institute for Justice’s Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative has published Solitary Confinement: Common Misconceptions and Emerging Safe Alternatives. As noted in  the overview to the report: Evidence mounts that the practice produces many unwanted and harmful outcomes—for the mental and physical health of those placed […]

With Loved Ones in Prison, Women Become Leaders in the Fight Against Solitary Confinement in New York

Jessica Casanova speaks in support of the HALT Solitary Confinement Act at a press conference in 2014.

Jessica Casanova’s nephew wrote her a letter: “I”m here in a steel coffin. I’m breathing but I’m dead.” Casanova recounted, “I didn’t know what that meant so I got on a bus and I found out.” That was in 2012, and three years later, she’s still finding out. As it turned out, Casanova’s nephew, Juan, […]

New Report Documents Brutal Treatment of People with Mental Illness in U.S. Prisons and Jails

Capt. Shawn Welch sprays OC spray into the face of Paul Schlosser who is bound in a restraint chair after the inmate, who has an infectious disease, spit at an officer.  June 10, 2012.

“Across the United States, staff working in jails and prisons have used unnecessary, excessive, and even malicious force on prisoners with mental disabilities such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.” This is the conclusion of Callous and Cruel: Use of Force Against Inmates with Mental Disabilities in US Jails and Prisons a Human Rights Watch report […]

Seven Days in Solitary [5/3/15]

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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. • A 64-year old man was found dead in his cell at San Quentin Prison. He had spent 14 years on California’s death row where 752 people still remain. […]