As solitary confinement comes under growing scrutiny, everyone from activists to scholars to members of Congress to corrections leaders and staff are beginning to recognize that change is needed and in fact long overdue. Now is the time to begin a real debate about how to undo nearly forty years of increasing reliance on solitary confinement, as a one-cell-fits-all response to challenges found both in prisons and in the larger society.
What are alternatives to the punishment and isolation of solitary for individuals deemed “disruptive” in prisons? What are alternatives to the warehousing of people with mental illness in solitary cells—and in prison and jails, for that matter? What changes need to be made to prisons—and to the larger criminal justice system—before we stop torturing children with solitary confinement? For the small number of people in prison who truly represent a serious threat to others, how can safety be achieved without the suffering caused by extreme isolation and sensory deprivation?
The aim of Solitary Watch’s Alternatives Project aims is to help make the mainstream media and the public aware that there are more humane and effective alternatives to solitary confinement, while also providing advocates with tools to advance their anti-solitary campaigns by focusing on solutions as well as problems. With generous support from the Langeloth Foundation, we are carrying out research and reporting on model reforms both in the United States and abroad, to be featured on Solitary Watch as well as in other publications. Our work will culminate in 2016 in a comprehensive report that can help bring additional attention to the existence of viable alternatives to prison isolation.
Articles in the Alternatives Project:
Part 1 — [Introduction] Off the Block: Can British Prisons Offer Solutions to America’s Solitary Confinement Crisis?