Back-to-School Resource: Reading/ Teaching Guide for "Hell Is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement"

First published in 2016 by The New Press, ​Hell Is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement​ is the first book to feature firsthand accounts—both writing and oral history—about the experience of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, jails, and detention centers. It includes pieces by 16 currently and formerly incarcerated men and women. This […]

James Ridgeway, 1936–2021

Dear Friends: We are heartbroken to announce the passing of Solitary Watch’s founder and co-director, James Ridgeway. Jim died on Saturday at the age of 84, after a brief illness. Some of you were fortunate enough to know him personally. Anyone who has visited this site, read his other reporting, or learned about the travesty of solitary confinement—which […]

Unlocking the Box in Louisiana

Update, Nov 18: Gov. John Bel Edwards was reelected to a second term on Saturday, November 16, narrowly defeating Republican challenger Eddie Rispone in the Louisiana gubernatorial election.   The following is an excerpt from Louisiana on Lockdown, a report jointly published in June 2019 by Solitary Watch, the ACLU of Louisiana, and the Jesuit Social Research […]

Solitary Voices: Journalists and Advocates Uncover a Dark Corner of the U.S. Criminal Justice System

Al Jazeera English’s media show, “The Listening Post,” has a feature on the challenges that journalists and advocates have faced exposing solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and jails—a hidden world that is home to some 100,000 people, but has been kept resolutely off-limits to the public and the press. The piece features Solitary Watch’s James […]

Solitary Watch Partners With Advocacy Groups on First Report Exposing Solitary Confinement in Nevada

A new report produced by the ACLU of Nevada, Nevada Disability Advocacy & Law Center, and Solitary Watch is the first to document the scope and impact of solitary confinement in Nevada. Unlocking Solitary Confinement: Ending Extreme Isolation in Nevada State Prisons reveals the number of people held in solitary in the state’s eight state prisons, details […]

Opening the Door

For 13 of his 22 years in prison, Cero Smith spent 23 hours a day alone in a small concrete cell. Three times a day, a corrections officer would pass his meals through a slot in the solid steel cell door. A CO would also take him to exercise alone for one hour in a […]

How the New Settlement Will—and Will Not—Change Solitary Confinement in New York’s Prisons (Redux)

Last Thursday, a federal judge gave formal approval to the settlement in a class-action suit brought by thousands of people held in solitary confinement in New York’s prisons, represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union. The ruling codifies an agreement reached in December, after extended negotiations, between the plaintiffs and the New York State […]