In the run-up to Mother’s Day, the ACLU has unrolled a new feature on its website, called “Justice Mamas.” In it, a series of mothers talk honestly and movingly about what it is like to have a beloved son behind bars and in solitary confinement.

The sons themselves represent a cross-section of the kinds of prisoners who are in solitary confinement in American prisons and jails today: One is a juvenile who is in and out of solitary for minor offenses. Another suffers from mental illness and is routinely placed in isolation instead of receiving the treatment he needs. Another has been “validated” as a gang member, and is in his twelfth year of solitary confinement at Pelican Bay.

Together, they offer a sense of how solitary confinement–even more than other forms of incarceration–tears families apart and keeps prisoners separated from what is often one of the only positive forces in their lives–their mothers.

Check out the Justice Mamas page here, and the ACLU’s Stop Solitary project here.

5 thoughts on “Mothers with Sons in Solitary Tell Their Stories

  1. Prisoners see their mothers as their only hope of survival in a hostile environment.

    Mother’s are called “The Rock” by prisoners because their support is immoveable just like the rocks in this ship wreck scene below along with a mother and her child.

    My own mother walked into Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office and begged to have my Brother Victor’s case reviewed. He had been repeatedly brutalized in solitary for over a decade before he died in solitary at Salinas Valley prison. His body was cremated without our knowledge and tossed into the ocean. Thankfully although our mother warned it would happen she died without ever learning the truth. I like to think Victor came to her on her death bed and the two will be forever together.

  2. The image is number 13 of 65. A picture is worth a thousand words.

  3. I have to thank all the mothers out there with a child in prison, especially in solitary. Never under estimate the power of a mother’s prayer and devotion. My mom prayed so hard for me while I was locked up, that I became a writer. Now out of prison, I have 7 books on Amazon and am able to write many prisoners with hope. Please keep sending me your son’s addresses, as it is a joy to write them. I remember what my 10 plus years was like in prison, lonely.

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