Voices From Solitary: Postcards From a Prison Pandemic

Incarcerated writer James Keown has been composing a series, “Postcards From a Prison Pandemic,” about the coronavirus’s impact on the medium-security MCI-Norfolk in Massachusetts, where he has spent the past two decades. Here we include excerpts from three of his posts. First, writing in April, he compared bracing for the impact of coronavirus to watching an […]

How to Survive Supermax

This week, The New Republic published a long essay by Arthur Longworth, which was written with the support of a grant from the Solitary Confinement Reporting Project, managed by Solitary Watch with funding from the Vital Projects Fund. Longworth has been incarcerated for 35 years and has spent long stretches in solitary. He is a 2019–2020 PEN America Writing for […]

Voices from Solitary: Satan's Domain

The following piece was written by Tashon Burke, a 28-year-old African American man struggling with mental illness, who estimates he has spent nearly eight years in solitary confinement throughout his incarceration. This past February, Burke was transferred from the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) at SCI Houtzdale in Pennsylvania to the SCI Fayette Special Management Unit […]

Voices from Solitary: Message from a Solitary Confinement Survivor for People Under Self-Quarantine

Mwalimu S. Shakur was in Pelican Bay State Prison’s notorious Security Housing Unit in 2013, when tens of thousands of people incarcerated throughout California launched a mass hunger strike. He and others were protesting the polices of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) around indefinite isolation in solitary confinement (also known as indeterminate […]

Voices from Solitary: Coronavirus Panic in a Quarantined Washington State Prison

John Hovey, a 52-year-old man serving three consecutive life sentences at Monroe Correctional Complex in Washington State, wrote the following piece in March 2020. Hovey has been incarcerated since the age of sixteen. In this piece, he describes the process of increased restrictions upon incarcerated people, including lockdowns for units that may have been exposed to […]

Louisiana on Lockdown: Voices from Louisiana's Solitary Confinement Cells

For the recent report Louisiana on Lockdown, a collaboration between Solitary Watch, the ACLU of Louisiana, and the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University New Orleans, more than 700 people held in solitary confinement in Louisiana state prisons completed a 12-page survey—the largest single survey conducted of people in solitary. The respondents provided vivid and deeply […]

Voices From Solitary: Years of Torture in the Jail Where Jeffrey Epstein Died

In recent weeks, the nation has turned its eyes to the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), the federal jail in Manhattan where Jeffrey Epstein died earlier this month. But some reformers and journalists have been ringing the alarm bell over conditions in MCC for years. In an investigation for Gothamist last year, Aviva Stahl described filthy conditions, substandard […]

Voices from Solitary: I Spent 16 Months in Solitary Confinement, and Now I’m Fighting to End It

The following piece was written by Kiana Calloway, a formerly incarcerated organizer with Voice of the Experienced (VOTE), a grassroots organization in New Orleans made up of formerly incarcerated people and their allies that works for policy change and for full civil and human rights for people impacted by the criminal justice system. He is also […]

Voices from Solitary: We Go Through Hell Here

In the following piece, Ryan Brown describes the conditions he faced during his three years in solitary confinement at Missouri’s Jefferson City Correctional Center. According to the most recent data from the Prison Policy Initiative, 32,000 people are currently incarcerated in the Missouri state prison system, with about an additional 20,000 people held in local […]