Solitary Confinement

Long-term solitary confinement is cruel, expensive and ineffective. Isolation creates and exacerbates symptoms of mental illness in prisoners, undermining successful re-entry into society and jeopardizing public safety. Meanwhile, states that have reduced their solitary populations have saved millions and seen violence plummet.

I Was Six-Years-Old and Locked in Solitary

I Was Six-Years-Old and Locked in Solitary

By James Burns at 1:24pm
Solitary was the worst thing that's ever happened to me. I was in and out of jail while I was growing up, and every time I was in solitary confinement, it felt as horrible as the first time I was locked up and left alone.
Things that Are ALWAYS Illegal: Sexual Assault Behind Bars

Things that Are ALWAYS Illegal: Sexual Assault Behind Bars

By Chase Strangio, Staff Attorney, ACLU at 12:13pm

Imagine you are taken from your community and family and sent to an institutional environment where everything is separated by sex. Once you get there the officers in charge of your every moment tell you that you are not the sex you have always known…

Time Out Is for Kids. This Isn't.

Time Out Is for Kids. This Isn't.

By Amy Fettig, ACLU National Prison Project & Tanya Greene, Advocacy and Policy Counsel, ACLU at 11:35am

"I developed techniques to survive. I've learned to play chess with other [kids] through a six-inch wall to keep myself occupied. But for others, it breaks them, makes them either violent or suicidal."

These are the words of Lino Silva, who…

Confronting California's Abuse of Solitary

Confronting California's Abuse of Solitary

By Helen Vera, National Prison Project Fellow, ACLU at 11:52am

Solitary confinement can eat away at someone's mind, making mental illness worse and leaving many people depressed, suicidal, hopeless or hallucinating. It's no place for individuals with mental illness.

In 1995, a federal court in California…

Death Row is Not a "Constitution-Free Zone"

Death Row is Not a "Constitution-Free Zone"

By Brian Stull, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 2:58pm

Alfredo Prieto sits alone 23 hours a day in a locked, seventy-square-feet box. The lights never go out.

According to trial records, Prieto grew up in tough circumstances in war-torn El Salvador, escaped with his family to California. He became…

Rikers Puts Mentally Ill Teens in "the Box"

Rikers Puts Mentally Ill Teens in "the Box"

By Helen Vera, National Prison Project Fellow, ACLU at 11:21am

Matthew was seventeen. He’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has struggled with serious drug dependency and a difficult home life. He needed help. Instead, he got locked in “the box.”

This is how notorious New York City jail Rikers…

Historic Opportunity to Advance International Norms on Prisoners' Rights

Historic Opportunity to Advance International Norms on Prisoners' Rights

By Helen Vera, National Prison Project Fellow, ACLU at 2:13pm

After a mere seven days in solitary confinement, a person's brain activity slows significantly. Every study conducted on the effects...

You Won't Believe What We're Doing to Kids

You Won't Believe What We're Doing to Kids

By Sarah Solon, Communications Strategist, ACLU at 11:08am

Imagine yourself at 13. Maybe you'd just started 8th grade. Maybe you'd just seen your first PG-13 movie. Now watch this:

Everyday across the country, kids as young as 13 are held in solitary confinement…

After 42 Years in Solitary, Herman Wallace Dies a Free Man

After 42 Years in Solitary, Herman Wallace Dies a Free Man

By Helen Vera, National Prison Project Fellow, ACLU at 1:29pm

Herman Wallace died this morning. He was 71 years old and debilitated by terminal liver cancer. Three days ago, he went home to New Orleans for the first time since he was a young man. He has spent virtually all of the last 42 years locked alone in…

New limits announced on ICE's solitary confinement of immigrants

New limits announced on ICE's solitary confinement of immigrants

By Carl Takei, ACLU National Prison Project at 4:06pm

Earlier this week, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released a new directive regulating the use of solitary confinement in immigration detention. This is a welcome and much-needed step toward curtailing a practice that is both inhumane…

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