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 […]

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 […]

Seven Days in Solitary [7/29/18]

• Sixty-one-year-old Eldon Lee Jackson died at Harris County Jail in Texas this week, one day after being placed in solitary confinement. The Houston Chronicle reported that Jackson, who had a history of threatening suicide, was found unconscious in his cell with a noose around his neck. • The Carrizales-Rucker Detention Center in Cameron County, Texas, […]

Seven Days in Solitary [7/1/18]

• The Associated Press published an anonymous firsthand account from an 18-year-old Honduran boy who experienced abuse at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center and participated in the recent lawsuit against alleged brutality and use of solitary confinement at the facility. The plaintiff reported incidents including officers withholding food and a group of officers kicking him so […]

Seven Days in Solitary [6/10/18]

• The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that a 48-year-old man, Dan Vasalech, has been placed in solitary confinement in the Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh for a remark he made criticizing the administration’s decision to lock down the jail so that the corrections officers could attend the funeral of a recently deceased officer. Vasalech received a […]

Seven Days in Solitary [6/3/18]

• The 2014 wrongful death case of 57-year-old James Embry has been revived, and WDRB News obtained a video showing Embry emaciated in the last moments of his life. Embry starved to death in solitary confinement, after refusing 35 out of his 36 last meals at the Kentucky State Penitentiary, where he had been sentenced […]

Seven Days in Solitary [3/11/18]

• According to the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, Bristol County Jail in Massachusetts faces at least four wrongful death lawsuits claiming that the jail places mentally ill, suicidal, and drug addicted individuals in solitary confinement instead of providing them medical and mental health care. While Bristol County only holds 13 percent of the […]

Seven Days in Solitary [1/14/18]

• The Nation published an article about the case of Sharqawi Al Hajj, a man from Yemen who has been held in Guantánamo Bay for 15 years without charge. The article references a federal judge’s findings that, during his detention at Guantánamo Bay, Al Hajj suffered “patent… physical and psychological coercion,” including, as Al Hajj’s […]