For tens of thousands of people locked away in U.S. prisons and jails, the extreme deprivation and isolation of solitary confinement causes unimaginable suffering. One person living in solitary described his existence to us as “a soul-destroying loneliness that never ends.”
In this context, even the smallest human connection can make a difference—and for many, that difference is profound.
Through our Lifelines to Solitary program, Solitary Watch reaches out to thousands of people in solitary confinement with personal letters, newsletters, and holiday cards each year. For many, this is the only mail they receive. Over the years, people have written us back, telling us what it means to know that they have not been entirely forgotten.
“This place is just very hard, living when you don’t have any outside help. That’s why having your support means so much to all the men locked up. Without you, we would have no one.”
For more than 600 individuals, Lifelines to Solitary also provides an actual pen pal—a person with whom those confined to solitary cells can share their daily struggles, their ideas and interests, heartaches and hopes. Pen pals who participate in the program soon come to know how eagerly their letters are anticipated, and how deeply they are valued.
“When my time here seems to be full of complex thoughts and my moments bring very little joy, I long for the unexpected. For the unplanned pleasures that come from just a pleasant written word…These are the things that brighten my days back here during those moments when my happiness seems to be depleted.”
These treasured moments of human connection that reach across prison walls are possible only because of your support. With no grant funding, the costs of running Lifelines to Solitary must be completely covered by individual donations. Only with your help can we continue to add new people to our mailing lists, match them up with correspondents on the outside, and bring messages from the outside world to thousands more men and women living in solitary confinement.
This year, your donation on Giving Tuesday—and through the end of November—will be TRIPLED, thanks to the NewsMatch program. Recurring monthly donations will be matched 12 times throughout the year. Please click on the link below to make your donation online, or learn where to send your check.
This #GivingTuesday, please take a moment to remember those who live in complete isolation, and help us to show them that they are not forgotten.
“I can’t tell you how touched I am for you giving me any attention. 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.’’
With gratitude and best wishes,
Jean Casella, Director
Marlies Talay, Lifelines to Solitary Project Coordinator
P.S. Lifelines to Solitary provides a unique level of support to pen pals to ensure a safe and meaningful correspondence. If you or someone you know would like to learn more about the program, please visit our Lifelines to Solitary page.