Seven Days in Solitary [10/14/19]

• The North Carolina Health News reported that Mecklenburg County jail has opened its first psychiatric unit, as a voluntary therapeutic alternative to solitary confinement for people with mental illness. Sergeant Charles Pearson said, “Some of them… they can’t function in another pod, they can’t be around a lot of people, they can’t follow orders. They […]

Voices From Solitary: Years of Torture in the Jail Where Jeffrey Epstein Died

In recent weeks, the nation has turned its eyes to the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), the federal jail in Manhattan where Jeffrey Epstein died earlier this month. But some reformers and journalists have been ringing the alarm bell over conditions in MCC for years. In an investigation for Gothamist last year, Aviva Stahl described filthy conditions, substandard […]

Voices from Solitary: I Spent 16 Months in Solitary Confinement, and Now I’m Fighting to End It

The following piece was written by Kiana Calloway, a formerly incarcerated organizer with Voice of the Experienced (VOTE), a grassroots organization in New Orleans made up of formerly incarcerated people and their allies that works for policy change and for full civil and human rights for people impacted by the criminal justice system. He is also […]

Voices from Solitary: We Go Through Hell Here

In the following piece, Ryan Brown describes the conditions he faced during his three years in solitary confinement at Missouri’s Jefferson City Correctional Center. According to the most recent data from the Prison Policy Initiative, 32,000 people are currently incarcerated in the Missouri state prison system, with about an additional 20,000 people held in local […]

Voices from Solitary: Solitary Sorrow

John Jay Powers, the author of this piece and a prolific prison writer, spent over twelve years isolated at the notorious ADX federal supermax facility in Florence, Colorado. The severity of the conditions in solitary confinement led him to develop critical mental health conditions and engage in dire acts of self-harm. Overall, Powers has spent […]

Voices from Solitary: Six by Ten

The following accounts have been excerpted from Six by Ten: Stories from Solitary, a recently published collection of thirteen oral history narratives from people impacted by solitary confinement. Part of the Voice of Witness series published by Haymarket Books, the volume was compiled and edited by ACLU attorney and campaign strategist Taylor Pendergrass and multimedia journalist […]

Voices from Solitary: A Concrete Death

Branton Noojin received an Honorable Mention for Nonfiction in PEN America’s 2018 Prison Writing Contest for authoring the following piece, “Solitary Confinement,” which is republished here by permission of the author and PEN. Noojin, currently serving a 100-year sentence for murder and voluntary manslaughter, has spent seven years in solitary confinement overall. Here, he provides a striking […]

Voices From Solitary: Waltzing Into Hell

The following account was written by Laura Purviance, who is currently serving a 50 to life sentence for murder at Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) in Chowchilla. In her writing, Purviance describes her experience at Lynwood Jail for women in Los Angeles. After revealing her mental health history, Purviance was placed on “suicide watch” in […]