Dear Donors, Readers, and Friends: This year, Solitary Watch has a chance to raise up to $20,000 in matching funds through NewsMatch, a collaborative fundraising movement to support independent, public service journalism like ours. We come to you once a year—and only once—to ask you to support the unique and vital work we do. With […]
Solitary Watch is accepting proposals for grants to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated journalists, with the goal of expanding public awareness and understanding of solitary confinement and other dangerous or inhumane conditions of confinement in U.S. federal and state prisons, local and tribal jails, immigration detention centers, and juvenile facilities. Through the generosity of the Vital […]
New from Solitary Watch: • In an essay for our Voices from Solitary series, Tashon Burke, a 30-year-old Black man with psychiatric disabilities, writes about the more than eight years he has spent in solitary confinement during his incarceration in Pennsylvania. In this anguished essay, Burke describes the mental and emotional trauma caused by his years […]
Dear Friends: For tens of thousands of people locked away in U.S. prisons and jails, the extreme deprivation and isolation of solitary confinement causes unimaginable suffering. One person living in solitary described his existence to us as “a soul-destroying loneliness that never ends.” In this context, even the smallest human connection can make a difference—and […]
• A Data for Progress poll found that a bipartisan majority of voters favor placing strict limits on solitary confinement. Voters indicated that they would support banning all forms of solitary confinement beyond four hours per day by a +32 point margin, with 78% of Democrats, 61% of Independents, and 51% of Republicans expressing support. […]
Check in with Solitary Watch via Our Newsletters
Each week, receive an email with our latest original reporting, plus a curated set of links to the best and most important new work on solitary confinement from around the web.
Once a month, we’ll also look at larger trends and explore ideas about the punishment paradigm that sustains solitary—and growing efforts to challenge it.
A Note to Our Readers: Since its founding, Solitary Watch has maintained a correspondence with thousands of people in the deepest, darkest corners of the U.S. punishment system, cut off from human contact and out of sight of the public and the press. They have served as our eyes and ears as we report on […]
New from Solitary Watch: • On November 16th at 6 PM EST, join Solitary Watch Director and Langeloth Grantee Partner Jean Casella in a discussion of new initiatives from Solitary Watch during the last Live with Langeloth of 2022. • Solitary Watch has released a new fact sheet that documents the psychological effects of solitary confinement. According […]
Today, Solitary Watch is publishing the third in a new series of fact sheets offering facts, analysis, and resources on a variety of topics related to solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, jails, and immigrant and juvenile facilities. This fact sheet, written by by Sara Rain Tree, covers the wide-ranging and devastating psychological effects of solitary. […]
New from Solitary Watch: • In an essay for our Voices from Solitary series, Raymond Williams writes about his experience as a 17-year-old incarcerated at Washington Corrections Center, where he was held in solitary confinement for a year. Now an adult incarcerated at the same facility, Williams makes the case that the legal system should […]
Raymond Williams, 42, is incarcerated at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton, Washington. Twenty-five years ago, he was sent to the same prison as a 17 year old. In this essay, Williams looks back on that first experience of being in adult prison. It was 1997, the year riots began in Washington prisons’ Intensive Management […]
New from Solitary Watch: • Yesterday, Solitary Watch announced grants available to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated journalists to report on solitary confinement and other harsh and inhumane prison conditions from the inside out. The Ridgeway Reporting Project honors the legacy of the late investigative journalist and Solitary Watch founder James Ridgeway. The deadline for submissions is […]
The good people who support change in our highly unjust criminal justice system often see a sharp divide between prison abolition and prison reform. Some who are dedicated to ending mass incarceration have been known to ignore or spurn what are commonly known as “conditions issues” like solitary confinement, prison medical and mental health care, […]
New from Solitary Watch: • On October 27 at 8pm ET, Unlock the Box will host a virtual reading from the 2016 book Hell Is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement, edited by Solitary Watch staff, on Facebook and Instagram Live. The event will feature advocates and survivors of solitary, who will read […]
This op-ed by Solitary Watch Contributing Writer Juan Moreno Haines appeared yesterday in the Los Angeles Times. Advocates almost succeeded this year in curbing the use of solitary confinement in California’s prisons and jails. The California Mandela Act, named after the long-imprisoned South African president, received the support it needed in August to pass the […]
New from Solitary Watch: • Angela Hattery and Earl Smith share an excerpt from their groundbreaking new book “Way Down in the Hole: Race, Intimacy and the Reproduction of Racial Ideologies in Solitary Confinement.” In this book, Hattery and Smith reveal the ways in which the structure of solitary confinement produces and fuels the conditions of […]
What follows is an excerpt from the groundbreaking new book Way Down in the Hole: Race, Intimacy and the Reproduction of Racial Ideologies in Solitary Confinement, by Angela J. Hattery and Earl Smith, with a foreword by Dr. Terry Kupers. Way Down in the Hole is the twelfth book authored by Hattery and Smith, professors […]
• The Marshall Project reports that Alabama prisons are in “deadly disarray” one week into a work strike organized by incarcerated people. Two men have been stabbed to death since the strike began, and one man was allegedly beaten by guards and put in solitary confinement for his role in exposing the strike. Last week, […]
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.
New this week from Solitary Watch: • In an essay in our Voices from Solitary series, Cesar Villa offers a searing account of living in prolonged solitary confinement in a Security Housing Unit, or SHU, at California’s notorious Pelican Bay State Prison. “We’re only here to die. The prison administration is paid to put us down. […]
Last night California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed the bill known as the California Mandela Act (AB-2632), which had been passed by both houses of the state legislature. If signed into law, the legislation would have limited solitary confinement to 15 days and banned it altogether for vulnerable individuals in state prisons, local jails, and private […]
In 2010, the human rights lawyer Juan Méndez was appointed UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. To many people in the United States, despite the domestic history of torture, the word carries associations with faraway places and despotic regimes. But Méndez, who was himself tortured in his […]
• TIME reports that the Department of Justice undercounted nearly 1,000 deaths in United States prisons and jails during the last fiscal year. At a congressional hearing on the matter, Vanessa Fano testified about how her brother Jonathan died by suicide in 2017 after being placed in an isolation cell in East Baton Rouge Parish […]
New this week from Solitary Watch: • Type Investigations and The American Prospect published an investigation by Solitary Watch contributing writers Katie Rose Quandt and Juan Moreno Haines. Quandt and Haines investigated San Quentin State Prison’s continued use of its infamous Adjustment Center, a death row unit designed for solitary confinement, to house people who have […]
Today, Type Investigations and The American Prospect published an investigation by Solitary Watch contributing writers Katie Rose Quandt and Juan Moreno Haines. Quandt and Haines investigated San Quentin State Prison’s continued use of its infamous Adjustment Center, a death row unit designed for solitary confinement, to house people who have contracted or been exposed to […]
Mathew Davis is in prison at the Western Illinois Correctional Center, where he is serving a life sentence. He was first incarcerated nearly two decades ago, in 2004, when he was 24. He is now 42. Davis previously wrote for Solitary Watch about his experience surviving extreme isolation in prison. His past writings can also be […]
New this week from Solitary Watch: • Solitary Watch has released a new fact sheet that documents the collateral consequences of solitary confinement. According to the fact sheet, these consequences include “the destruction of family relationships, lasting financial hardship, exclusion from work and educational programing, additional time behind bars, increased recidivism, and even shortened life […]
Today, Solitary Watch is publishing the second in a new series of fact sheets offering facts, analysis, and resources on a variety of topics related to solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, jails, and immigrant and juvenile facilities. This fact sheet, written by by Annalena Wolke, covers the seldom-addressed “collateral consequences” of solitary. As the fact […]