Stop Solitary - Stories from Solitary

Document Date: August 24, 2012

These are the real stories of real people who have been affected by solitary confinement. We hope that exposing the often-hidden realities of solitary to public view will encourage questions and increased opposition to it.

Anthony Graves

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Prison Voices: When I Was on Death Row, I Saw a Bunch of Dead Men Walking. Solitary Confinement Killed Everything Inside Them. »

Sarah Shourd
Sarah Shourd spent 410 days in solitary confinement while held as a political hostage by the Iranian Government in 2009-2010. Before being captured, Shourd was living in a Palestinian Refugee Camp in Damascus, Syria working as a journalist and teaching for the Iraqi Student Project.
Sarah Shourd – Stories from Solitary »

Joe Giarratano
Joe Giarratano is a prisoner at Virginia’s Wallens Ridge State Prison. He spent a total of eight years in Secure Housing and supermax units, sometimes spending as many as 23 hours a day in isolation, with little or no human contact or natural light. The following is a handwritten letter from Joe along with a typed transcription. The letter has been redacted by the ACLU at the request of Joe’s counsel.
Joe Giarratano – Stories from Solitary »

Justice Mamas: Lynn Finley, Lisa Ortega, Dolores Canales, Theresa Riordan, Lois DeMott
This year, hundreds of mothers will be kept from hugging their children by the walls of solitary confinement.
Justice Mamas »

Robert King
Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox and Robert King make up the “Angola 3,” prisoners who were targeted for punishment and placed in solitary confinement at the Angola Prison in Louisiana because they were members of the Black Panther Party. King was released from Angola in February 2001, but Wallace and Woodfox are still in prison. April 17 marks 40 years that they have been in solitary confinement.
Solitary Confinement: “The Soul Cries and the Brain Shrinks” »

Brian Nelson
“We really don’t know [how he got to Tamms],” his lawyer, Alan Mills wrote in an email. “He was never given any formal charge or hearing. He certainly didn’t have any sort of disciplinary problem in New Mexico.”
I’m Still in That Box: 23 Years in Solitary Confinement »

Billy McCarthy
Billy McCarthy is the singer and songwriter for the band We Are Augustines. Many of the songs on the band’s critically acclaimed album Rise Ye Sunken Ships were inspired by McCarthy’s brother James, who suffered from mental illness and took his own life after spending five years in solitary confinement in a California prison.
Prison Voices: Billy McCarthy of We Are Augustines talks about Solitary Confinement and Mental Illness »

Sam Mandez
Out of Sight, Out of Mind is an original short film from the ACLU of Colorado about a man who spent 15 years in solitary confinement in Colorado prisons and now suffers from debilitating mental illness. Sam is one of at least 75 seriously mentally ill prisoners currently locked away in solitary confinement in Colorado’s prisons.
Prison Voices: Out of Sight, Out of Mind »