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 […]

Fourteen Days in Solitary [6/8/20]

• The New York Daily News reported that prosecutors for the Bronx District Attorney will not pursue criminal charges related to the death of Layleen Polanco, a 27-year-old Afro-Latinx, transgender woman, last June. Polanco died from an epileptic seizure while being held in punitive segregation, or solitary confinement, at Rikers Island jail in New York […]

Fourteen Days in Solitary [3/30/20]

• Dozens of national articles have covered the dangerous effect COVID-19 has had—and threatens to have—on prisons, jails, and detention centers in the U.S., as well as the measures some jurisdictions are taking to deal with that danger. The Prison Policy Initiative has tracked some of the responses from state and local correctional facilities and compiled […]

Seven Days in Solitary [3/2/20]

• The Montgomery Advertiser reported that the families of four men who committed suicide in Alabama prisons in the past two years have filed a wrongful death lawsuit, claiming they faced cruel and unusual punishment. The Southern Poverty Law Center says that the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) violates their own policies, including routine security […]

Seven Days in Solitary [2/3/20]

• The Boston Globe reported that prison administrators locked down the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, following an incident on January 10 when three correctional officers were reportedly assaulted. Dozens of incarcerated people interviewed by Prisoners’ Legal Services reported being locked in their cells all day and all night, only let out for fifteen […]

Seven Days in Solitary [12/23/19]

• The Associated Press published an article on the high rate of suicides by people held in solitary confinement across New York state prisons. A report from the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision found that 30 of the 130 suicides between 2004 and 2013 in New York prison occurred in solitary […]

Seven Days in Solitary [10/7/19]

• A groundbreaking and disturbing new study published by the JAMA Network found that people held in solitary confinement during their incarceration had a “significantly” higher likelihood of dying within the first year of their release back into the community. The study used data from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety tracking nearly 230,000 incarcerated people […]

Seven Days in Solitary [9/16/19]

• The Colorado Independent reported on the story of Sam Mandez, a 41-year-old man who was sentenced to life without parole under the state’s felony murder law for being the lookout at a robbery at which someone was killed. Mandez was fourteen years old at the time. Under the 2012 Supreme Court ruling that bars mandatory life […]

Seven Days in Solitary [9/2/19]

• The ACLU of Virginia announced that a lawsuit against the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) has moved forward, after Federal District Court Judge Robert Payne dismissed an attempt by the VDOC to dismiss the suit. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Nicolas Reyes, a Hispanic man who spent over twelve years in solitary confinement at Red […]

Seven Days in Solitary [8/5/19]

• According to CNN, the cause of 27-year-old Layleen Polanco’s death in June on the transgender “restricted housing unit” at Rikers Island in New York has been revealed as an epileptic seizure. Attorney David Shanies said that Polanco had suffered several seizures at Rikers and corrections officials were aware of her condition. “When an epileptic person […]

Seven Days in Solitary [6/17/19]

• In a Spanish-language broadcast, Univision reported that a hunger strike in support of the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act has reached 29 participants. The advocates gathered outside the office of New York Senate Majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, calling for the HALT bill to be brought to a vote. The HALT bill currently has […]