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 […]

Voices from Solitary: The Loneliest Place in the World

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This essay is by Shawn Smith, who is serving time for drug sales and assault in New York. He is one of some 4,500 individuals currently being held in isolated confinement in the state’s prison system. In a letter to Solitary Watch, he writes “I’m so lonely that I dream of human contact with the outside world…and I was hoping […]

Voices from Solitary: Disciplined Into Madness and Death

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The following essay comes from Sara Rodrigues, formerly imprisoned at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison for women in Westchester, New York, and now further upstate at Albion. When Sara was sent to prison at the age of 16, she found her friend D there as well. Both Sara and D had life-long struggles with mental health, and […]

New York Prisoner Gets Five Years in Solitary for Cell Phone Smuggled in by Guard

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Philip Miller was midway through a twenty-year sentence for robbery at Sing Sing Prison in New York, with an almost spotless prison record, when he was caught with a mobile phone in his cell in April 2010. He was charged with two disciplinary violations: “possession of contraband” and also “altering state property,” since he had hidden the cell phone […]

Voices from Solitary: Katfish on Life in “The Bucket”

Katfish’s blog posts appear on Tales from the Cells, a web site featuring writing by prisoners, maintained by Nikita. Katsfish–whose given name is Mike Harris–is currently serving time in FCI Yazoo City, a federal prison near Jackson, Mississippi. Before he was transferred to “the Zoo” last fall, he was in FCI Big Spring, in west central Texas. Although both […]

Lessons from Solitary

Guest Post by David Chura Editors’ Note: David Chura has spent forty years working with–and writing about–”kids in the system”: at-risk children in foster care, group homes, homeless shelters, psych hospitals, drug rehab, special education, and alternative high schools, as well as in juvenile and adult corrections facilities. (Chura’s blog is kidsinthesystem.wordpress.com.) As a teacher in […]

The Lost Boys of Westchester County’s SHU

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Mother Jones this week ran a powerful two-part excerpt from a new book called I Don’t Wish Nobody to Have a Life Like Mine: Tales of Kids in Adult Lockup. The book is by David Chura, who worked for 10 years as an English teacher in the Westchester County Jail. The published excerpt focuses on the jail’s Special Housing […]