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.

Will Nelson Mandela's Solitary Confinement Inspire Positive Change?

Will Nelson Mandela's Solitary Confinement Inspire Positive Change?

By David Fathi, National Prison Project at 3:55pm
It's a short walk from my hotel here in Cape Town to the waterfront. From there you can see Robben Island, the notorious prison where Nelson Mandela and other freedom fighters were incarcerated during the darkest days of apartheid.
This Prisoner's Note Isn't From Some Dystopian Dictatorship. It's From Texas.

This Prisoner's Note Isn't From Some Dystopian Dictatorship. It's From Texas.

By Amy Fettig, ACLU National Prison Project at 3:20pm

Every day from dusk to dawn there's noise, banging, clanking, yelling, screaming. Everyday someone is getting hurt or hurting themselves. Everyday there's fire and floods and complete chaos & hate…Every day is a challenge here. A challenge…

The United States Admits It Crossed a Line. That’s the Least of It.

The United States Admits It Crossed a Line. That’s the Least of It.

By Sarah Mehta, Researcher, ACLU Human Rights Program at 12:54pm

On Wednesday, the United Nations Committee Against Torture began its review of the United States’ record on torture—not only at the infamous Guantánamo Bay but closer to home, in our prisons, police forces, and immigration facilities.

The…

Solitary confinement cell

Ten Years Without Other People

By Nzinga A. Harrison, MD at 10:41am

Every time they throw my brother into solitary, he loses contact visits. When we visit, he's behind glass, or we can only see him via video. We can't hug him. He can't hold his new baby niece.

My brother, Kofi M. Ajabu, has been imprisoned…

I Was 16 and in Solitary Before I Ever Even Went to Trial

I Was 16 and in Solitary Before I Ever Even Went to Trial

By Reginald Dwayne Betts, Legal Intern, ACLU at 2:01pm

February is cold in Northern Virginia. It's even colder when you're in a cell alone, without a mattress, a blanket, a pillow, or a sheet.

When I walked into that cell in the basement of the Fairfax County Jail, my hands cuffed behind my back…

Vee Isn't the Scariest Villain in <em>Orange Is the New Black</em>. This Is.

Vee Isn't the Scariest Villain in Orange Is the New Black. This Is.

By Helen Vera, National Prison Project Fellow, ACLU at 10:22am

In the second season opener of Orange is the New Black, the show's heroine Piper uses her breakfast to paint a bird on the wall. A month alone in a cell the size of a parking spot has clearly messed with her head. Thirty minutes later, a row of naked…

How to Disappear a Mentally Ill Grandmother: Throw Her in Solitary

How to Disappear a Mentally Ill Grandmother: Throw Her in Solitary

By Helen Vera, National Prison Project Fellow, ACLU at 1:45pm

Her cell was so dirty that a sock rotted into an open wound on her foot. For two and a half years, she didn't have a bed. She slept on a mat on the floor. She bled on herself, because the jail denied her sanitary napkins.

Jan Green, a 51-year-old…

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.

The first time I'd…

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…

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