We reach out to you just once a year to ask for your support. And even now, we seek your help not for our regular research and reporting work, which catalyzes change by documenting the hidden world of prison isolation. Instead, we ask you to donate to a special program that brings small ray of light into the lives of thousands of people languishing in the darkness of solitary confinement. It’s a program we call Lifelines to Solitary.
What began, several years ago, as an occasional newsletter for anyone in solitary confinement with whom we were lucky enough to connect, rapidly became a treasured stream of news from the free world–a reliable and, for far too many, the only lifeline available to remind them that they had not been forgotten by the world they once belonged to. We soon added holiday cards, and all the individual letters and cards we ourselves could find time to write.
As our list of people in solitary grew, we realized that quarterly newsletters and holiday cards were not enough. Knowing that a single letter can make a staggering difference in the life of someone suffering in solitary, we last year made a pledge to expand our Lifelines project to include the first pen pal program designed specifically for people living in isolation.
In the past year, we’ve helped connect groups like Princeton’s student-led Project Solidarity and New York’s Village Zendo with our readers in solitary, offering both sides an opportunity to forge a correspondence built on their common humanity. This coming year, we will be partnering with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture to nurture Lifelines chapters in faith communities across the country, while continuing to work with student groups and community organizations as well.
Every day, now, we receive requests for newsletters and pen pals from men, women, and children living in solitary around the country. Because we know what an ounce of human contact can mean for these isolated souls, we struggle to keep up with the demand. But our funding for Lifelines comes almost entirely from individual donors like you.
Some of you have already given generously to Lifelines to Solitary, and for this we are deeply grateful. We are asking the rest of our readers to make a donation to Lifelines to Solitary today. Please take a look at our appeal by clicking on the link below, and consider lending your support. All donations to Solitary Watch are fully tax-deductible through out fiscal sponsor, Community Futures Collective.
With sincere thanks for your caring and generosity, and with best wishes for the new year,
Jean Casella and Jim Ridgeway, Co-Directors