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 […]

Seven Days in Solitary [5/25/20]

• The LA Times reported that 74-year-old Chuong Woong Ahn, an immigrant from South Korea held at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Mesa Verde Processing Center in California, died by suicide on May 17. Lawyers had requested Ahn’s release and his sister had prepared for him to live with her upon release. Despite Ahn’s […]

Seven Days in Solitary [5/18/20]

• The Philadelphia Inquirer published the “Lockdown Diaries,” a set of writings from incarcerated people during Pennsylvania’s longest ever statewide lockdown. Instituted because of the coronavirus pandemic, the lockdown basically places everyone in the prison system in indefinite solitary confinement in an effort to control contagion (despite the existence of more humane and effective alternatives). Accompanied by illustrations created […]

As COVID-19 Spreads Through Prisons, Solitary Confinement Is Used to Punish Whistleblowers and Suppress Protests

In early April, as reports of deaths from COVID-19 began to emerge from U.S. prisons and jails, Aaron Campell posted a desperate 20-minute Facebook Live video shot using a contraband cell phone. The video showed sick people gasping and coughing on his unit in the low-security federal FCI Elkton in Ohio, and one of the […]

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 […]

Local Jails Were Death Traps Even Before COVID-19. The Pandemic Demands Sweeping—and Permanent—Change.

The following piece originally appeared in the Opinion section of The Guardian on March 30.  •   •   •   •   • On Wednesday, March 18, while New York was emerging as the national epicenter for the novel coronavirus, a desperate message was dispatched from the city’s notorious Rikers Island. “A storm is coming,” tweeted Dr. Ross […]