Dear Solitary Watchers:
We approach our readers with an appeal for support only once a year. And even then, we don’t ask you to help us with general operating expenses, but rather with a very special part of our work.
All year long, while we are carrying on our research and reporting on the human rights crisis in our midst, Solitary Watch also reaches out directly to hundreds of people who live in extreme isolation in prisons and jails across the country.
We get dozens of letters each week, and try our best to respond to them all. Four times a year we send out a newsletter with selected stories from the website to more than 600 men and women in solitary confinement. And every December we send out a holiday card. This year’s card, pictured below, features art by Five Omar Mualimm-ak, a survivor of five years of solitary in New York State prisons.
It is difficult to overstate what an impact these simple missives can have on a person who lives surrounded by gray walls, deprived of all human contact. A colorful card, or a note with a few handwritten words of support, or a newsletter that tells of the growing movement against solitary confinement–all these are acknowledgments of the recipient’s humanity, a small sign that they have not been forgotten.
“I can’t tell you how touched I am for you giving me any attention,” one man in a Texas prison wrote to us after receiving our holiday card last year. “I am so grateful to you and cried tears reading your card because the torture, abuse and neglect I’m facing makes this cell and my world a lonely place, and many days I think of how to take my own life and end the misery and pain but you inspire me and I continue to fight on.’’
At the same time, our communications with people in solitary confinement serve another purpose, providing us with a rich source of first-hand information that shapes our reporting on solitary confinement, as well as material for the Voices from Solitary we feature on our site.
That’s why every dollar raised in this annual appeal will go directly to our Lifelines to Solitary project. This year, we want to double the reach of our mailings, to at least 1,200 of the tens of thousands of people who live in long-term solitary. That means we need to perform outreach to supermax prisons and solitary confinement units to acquire additional contacts. And once we succeed in doubling our list, our printing and mailing costs will double as well.
Please consider helping us achieve our goals with a donation at any level. To find out more about Lifelines to Solitary and to make a fully tax-deductible online donation, please visit our fundraising page: http://www.razoo.com/story/Lifelines-To-Solitary-2014
Thank you for your support, your faith in our work, and your concern for the people who reside in our nation’s darkest corners.
With best wishes for the new year,
Jean and Jim