A Message from Our New Editor-in-Chief, Incarcerated Journalist Juan Moreno Haines [Video]

by | December 12, 2023

Dear Supporters, Readers, and Friends:

When Solitary Watch made me editor-in-chief last month, it deepened its commitment to supporting and amplifying the vital work of incarcerated writers. This is an enterprise that is very close to my heart: I myself have been behind bars at San Quentin for 27 years and counting. As a prison journalist, I have experienced firsthand the silencing of incarcerated voices, as well as the power of prison writing to break that silence.

I now have the honor of leading initiatives like the Ridgeway Reporting Project and Voices from Solitary, as well as many more still to come, which ensure that the experiences and perspectives of incarcerated people will become part of the broad public history of mass incarceration in the United States. They also enable us to be part of the conversation on how to fix what is so clearly a broken system.

The voices of incarcerated writers will deepen the public’s understanding of the criminal punishment system and its damaging effect on every aspect of our communities. And the stories they tell will help readers re-envision how we treat human beings.

We know that many incarcerated individuals have struggled with substance use disorders or mental health challenges, as well as poverty, racism, and lack of opportunity—only to end up trapped in prisons that are rife with violence and abuse. In the worst cases, they must endure the torturous isolation of solitary confinement, which deprives them of precisely the things they need to recover and rehabilitate.

When these fundamental values of a society are so flawed, are the people in cages “criminals”—or is it a crime to cage them?

These philosophical questions are foundational, and are at the core of the individual and collective truth-telling done by incarcerated journalists, writers, and artists. And these truths are available to the public at large thanks to organizations like Solitary Watch.

For more than a decade, Solitary Watch has supported and published incarcerated voices, and pressured mainstream media and institutions to do so as well. Now they have taken their commitment a step further by becoming one of the only newsrooms or nonprofit organizations with a currently incarcerated person in a leadership position.

As the year draws to a close, you have a unique opportunity to support this absolutely critical work. Now through December 31, any donation you make to Solitary Watch will be doubled through NewsMatch. Monthly recurring donations will be matched 12 times throughout the year. This means that a monthly donation of $10 is worth $240, and a monthly donation of $25 is worth $600.

Solitary Watch and I have great plans for the future, which we believe will help to end the torture of solitary confinement and transform the narrative around mass incarceration and criminal justice. We hope you will take this opportunity to join us!

With sincere gratitude,

Juan - Signature

Juan Moreno Haines
Editor-in-Chief, Solitary Watch

Juan Moreno Haines

Juan Moreno Haines is a senior contributing writer and editor at Solitary Watch, and senior editor at the award-winning San Quentin News. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists, he was awarded its Silver Heart Award for being “a voice for the voiceless.” His work has appeared in The Guardian, The Appeal, Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal, Above the Law, UCLA Law Review, Life of the Law, The Oakland Post, LA Progressive, and CalMatters, among others. In 2020, he received the PEN Prison Writing Contest’s Fielding A. Dawson Prize in Fiction. He has been incarcerated in California for 26 years.

Help Expose the Hidden World of Solitary Confinement

Accurate information and authentic storytelling can serve as powerful antidotes to ignorance and injustice. We have helped generate public awareness, mainstream media attention, and informed policymaking on what was once an invisible domestic human rights crisis.

Only with your support can we continue this groundbreaking work, shining light into the darkest corners of the U.S. criminal punishment system.

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