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

The settlement announced Wednesday by the New York Civil Liberties Union in the Peoples v Fischer case brings broad, deep, and meaningful change to the way New York utilizes solitary confinement in its state prisons. It is a significant and hard-won victory for the plaintiffs, their attorneys, and the hundreds of advocates who have long […]

Off the Block

As the first of several journeys for Solitary Watch’s Alternatives Project, my colleague Aviva Stahl and I spent two weeks in Britain, visiting prisons and interviewing officials of HM Prison Service and its oversight bodies, advocates, lawyers, scholars, and currently and formerly incarcerated individuals. Our aim was to discover how solitary is—and is not—used in […]

New Feature: Milestones in Solitary Reform

This week we debut a new feature on Solitary Watch: a timeline that tracks the rapidly accumulating (and accelerating) reforms made to solitary confinement policies and practices across the country. “Milestones in Solitary Reform” – created and maintained by Amy Fettig of the ACLU buy valium mastercard National Prison Project, and Margo Schlanger of the University of Michigan […]

London Calling

For the next two weeks, Solitary Watch will be on hiatus while my colleague Aviva Stahl and I take a reporting trip to the United Kingdom. While there, we will be speaking with officials and inspectors of Her Majesty’s Prison Service, as well as prison reform advocates, scholars, and currently and formerly incarcerated individuals. We  also […]

Supreme Court Justice Kennedy: "Solitary Confinement Literally Drives Men Mad"

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on Monday used long-term solitary confinement as evidence that the “idea of total incarceration just isn’t working.” Solitary “literally drives men mad,” Kennedy said, noting that more humane alternatives are employed elsewhere in the world. Kennedy’s comments were made during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the 2016 Budget Request for […]

After 42 Years in Solitary Confinement, Will the Angola 3's Albert Woodfox Be a Free Man?

In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the overturning of Albert Woodfox’s conviction. Yet he may remain in prison–and in solitary confinement–for months or even years before his four-decade ordeal is over. Woodfox has been held in solitary confinement for more than 42 years for the 1972 murder […]

Pope Francis Denounces Solitary Confinement, Calls for Prison Conditions That "Respect Human Dignity"

In a wide-ranging speech on Thursday, Pope Francis revealed himself as a passionate criminal justice reformer. His words also suggest that he is familiar with the controversies surrounding solitary confinement and supermax prisons, and strongly opposes their use. Speaking at the Vatican to representatives of the International Association of Penal Law, the Pope said: “All Christians and people […]

U.S. Government Tells UN: “No Systematic Use of Solitary Confinement in the United States”

Today, dozens of advocates will travel from around the country to Washington, DC, to take part in what are called “Civil Society Consultations” with representatives of the U.S. government on the subject of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). As a signatory of CAT, the […]

Seven Days in Solitary [6/8/14]

• On Monday, June 2, the New York City medical examiners office ruled the death of a man who died in a Rikers Island jail cell last fall to be a homicide. Bradley Ballard died of complications of diabetes along with the results of genital self-mutilation. According to the Associated Press: “Ballard, who family members […]