Voices from Solitary: Letters from the Hole

by | October 10, 2010

Solitary Watch frequently receives notes from prisoners, many of them in solitary. From time to time, we want to share excerpts some of these with our readers.  Names of prisoners and prisons have been removed to protect the writers of these letters.

I have been in lockup for a year and a half and I have another two years to do before I will be able to get back in the general population. I exercise and try to occupy my time but being in a cell is hard with only what is in your head.  –South Carolina

I am in a one man cell on the second of three tiers. There are 6 tiers, about 180 people in this cell block. I am fed in my cell. The only time I leave my cell is to shower 3 times a week and get some outside time three times a week in a wire cage the size of a dog kennel…There are no windows in the O wing cells and this is administrative segregation (the hole). People housed here are considered or classified a danger to the security of the facility and each other.  California

I’ve been in solitary confinement since October 2008 after prison guards conducted a sweep of all Hispanics which the department classified as “Northeners’’(Hispanics xanax generic or brand from San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, etc.) As a resut of this sweep me along with about 50 other Hispanics were put in solitary confinement under the pretext that we were being put under investigation of being prison gang members and associates.  This was the second sweep of Hispanics in which I had been taken to ad segregation for “investigation.” The first time I was allowed back into the general population. This second time around, however, I was validated as a prison gang associate.  Based on a fabricated confidential “staff report’’—prison staff purported to have seen me included with gang activity… I couldn’t cross examine the evidence because it was confidential.  I knew that the alleged incident was fabricated as it never occurred.  Similarly prison staff also used confidential  information provided by confidential informants who were seeking lenient treatment from their own misconduct.  –California

I am a 75 year old  indigent lifer in 23 hour a day solitary cell suffering extreme debilitating depression causing me to sleep 16-20 hours a day and suffering physical abuses as well as psychological abuses–beaten, kicked, kneed, choked, body strapped to the floor, starved up to 8 straight days, taunted and accused of the physical impossibility of the rape of a cat.  –Florida


James Ridgeway and Jean Casella

James Ridgeway (1936-2021) was the founder and co-director of Solitary Watch. An investigative journalist for over 60 years, he served as Washington Correspondent for the Village Voice and Mother Jones, reporting domestically on subjects ranging from electoral politics to corporate malfeasance to the rise of the racist far-right, and abroad from Central America, Northern Ireland, Eastern Europe, Haiti, and the former Yugoslavia. Earlier, he wrote for The New Republic and Ramparts, and his work appeared in dozens of other publications. He was the co-director of two films and author of 20 books, including a forthcoming posthumous edition of his groundbreaking 1991 work on the far right, Blood in the Face. Jean Casella is the director of Solitary Watch. She has also published work in The Guardian, The Nation, and Mother Jones, and is co-editor of the book Hell Is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement. She has received a Soros Justice Media Fellowship and an Alicia Patterson Fellowship. She tweets @solitarywatch.

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  • Joshlyn

    god bless you poor soul you are with in the darknes of justice the hell that is the plane of justice but i tell you i was not in prison but i know what solitary can do to you your not alone in this suffering you need to get hold of grassians info on shu sindrum it wil help you a lot and the solitary serval guid thow mine was but suclueshion in a school i can and still feel the effects of it do not let this beet you doun take control of you life by making a scewall for yourself keep in shape right letters ass offtin as you can fighting the minyons of hell was never siad to be easy but you are standing you can still fight may god grant you freedum from such pain no man should have to go thow it right to you famly tell them to send all your info to stuart E grassian let him know what going on you still have that power anyone you know get your words out to those who fight for you tell them to seek out help do not lie doun and give in or you will never be what you can be use your time every day wisely help others by fighting this hell they make you suffer may thare me light in the darknes of justice

  • Francis

    Oscar Wilde was released from jail on May of 1897 was sentenced to two years’ hard labor in solitary confinement. Wilde argued that what were then considered “modern modes of punishment”.
    The New World in the 21 Century: What a progress, a nation eager to bring freedom and democracy to other countries by war. Be happy when they don’t recognize your deficiencies, wrongdoing.

  • Liza

    that last one just breaks my heart.. I wonder if he even has family or a support system. The one before it is exactly what my man is going through ..allegations and no opportunity to state his case or give evidence to support his right to be out of the SHU.

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