Back-to-School Resource: Reading/ Teaching Guide for "Hell Is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement"

First published in 2016 by The New Press, ​Hell Is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement​ is the first book to feature firsthand accounts—both writing and oral history—about the experience of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, jails, and detention centers. It includes pieces by 16 currently and formerly incarcerated men and women. This […]

Seven Days in Solitary [9/1/21]

• The New York Times reports that federal officials announced the temporary closure of the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), a federal jail in Lower Manhattan. They have described it as part of an effort to improve conditions at the jail, which have been dangerous for years, but only received widespread attention in 2019 after the suicide […]

Seven Days in Solitary [8/25/21]

• An opinion piece in USA Today reports that low rates of vaccination among prison staff nationally are driving COVID outbreaks in prisons. The authors of the piece work with the UCLA Law COVID Behind Bars Data Project, which found that fewer than half of prison staff had been vaccinated, despite the fact that the […]

Seven Days in Solitary [8/18/21]

A New Yorker article by Eyal Press looks at the work of Angela Armstrong, who has spent the past decade examining conditions inside of carceral facilities in Louisiana. This past June, she launched a revolutionary database compiling death statistics for Louisiana prisons and jails, attempting to improve transparency. Armstrong’s database reports on individuals moved to […]

Seven Days in Solitary [8/2/21]

•  Although the Virginia Department of Corrections claims to be shifting their solitary confinement practice to “restorative housing,” the Virginia Coalition on Solitary Confinement and ACLU of Virginia maintain that many people are still held in isolation for 20 hours a day, the Progress-Index reports. Coalition organizer Natasha White said, “[VDOC] can claim they’ve ended solitary […]

Seven Days in Solitary [7/27/21]

•  Corrections departments across the country have found ways to circumvent recent anti-solitary confinement legislation by simply renaming the cages that people are held in, the Progressive reports. Unlock the Box director Jessica Sandoval described how it was common for facilities to trade new names in for “solitary confinement,” like “special management unit” or  “special housing […]

Seven Days in Solitary [7/19/21]

•  A group of more than 20 men at David Wade Correctional Center in Louisiana went on a hunger strike last week to call attention to the torture-like conditions they are experiencing. They are part of a program in which incarcerated people from another prison—Elayn Hunt—are sent to David Wade for intensive disciplinary segregation. The […]

Seven Days in Solitary [7/12/21]

• A hunger strike by more than 20 incarcerated men in Pennsylvania prisons over prolonged solitary confinement came to an end after ten days on July 6, reports the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. The strikers are held in the Intensive Management Unit (IMU) at State Correctional Institution-Phoenix, which they allege is de facto solitary confinement. They declared […]

Voices From Solitary: Double Doors

Ethan Macks, 30, originally of Flagstaff, Arizona, began serving a seven-year sentence in the Arizona State Prison Complex at Yuma in 2018. He was recently released from a ten-month term in a maximum-security solitary confinement unit. In this piece, Mack describes a setup colloquially known as “double doors,” which in the name of “security” adds […]