Solitary Violates Human Rights

The world will get a glimpse this week into how the United States treats those we lock in solitary confinement, when the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights hears ACLU testimonies on how our treatment of vulnerable prisoners violates international human rights norms. The short story: we should be ashamed. For a more detailed picture, check back throughout the week for an ongoing blog series on the issue.

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.
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…

U.N. Flag

U.S. Human Rights Record Undergoes International Scrutiny

By Jamil Dakwar, Director, ACLU Human Rights Program at 10:25pm

This week, the United Nations Human Rights Committee will review U.S. compliance with its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by the U.S. in 1992. The review will cast light on a dark underbelly of American…

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…

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...

The Solitary Confinement Scorecard

The Solitary Confinement Scorecard

By Hilary Krase, ACLU National Prison Project at 1:06pm

Over 30,000 prisoners in California have refused food to protest it. Innocent men freed from death row report that it drives people insane, killing everything inside of them before they ever see the execution gurney. Architects have called for…

Former Death Row Prisoner Speaks Out Against Solitary, Capital Punishment

Former Death Row Prisoner Speaks Out Against Solitary, Capital Punishment

By Sarah Solon, Communications Strategist, ACLU at 12:07pm

Montez Spradley spent three-and-a-half years on death row in Alabama for a murder he did not commit...

Statistics image