Connecticut: Inside the Box

Connecticut: Inside the Box

Last month, the ACLU of Connecticut, The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) and The Yale Undergraduate Prison Project partnered to bring together Inside the Box, a multi-faceted program designed to enable solitary confinement advocates to “experience, get educated, and become equipped to advocate.”  


To submit an event report, please send a description and pictures or links to us at togethertoendsolitary@gmail.com.

"Solitary: Inside Red Onion State Prison"

"Solitary: Inside Red Onion State Prison"

On February 6th, HBO will premiere “SOLITARY: INSIDE RED ONION STATE PRISON.”  A compelling and haunting documentary from award-winning filmmaker Kristi Jacobson, SOLITARY takes the viewer inside one of America’s notorious supermax prisons to expose the horrors and dehumanizing effects of solitary confinement.  You can view a trailer of the film here.


To submit an event report, please send a description and pictures or links to us at togethertoendsolitary@gmail.com.

2016 in Review

2016 in Review

As 2016 draws to a close, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on all of the progress made over the past year to stop solitary confinement.  Throughout the country, at both the federal and state level, legislative bodies, departments of corrections and executive agencies enacted progressive, vital reforms, placing severe restrictions on who can be placed in solitary and for how long.  Additionally, the courts have approved influential settlements in far-reaching litigations that will affect thousands of incarcerated men and women.  Many of the most far-ranging reforms have addressed the issue of placing youthful offenders in solitary confinement – with several states and the federal government effectively putting an end to the use of solitary confinement for kids, at the same time recognizing that the effects of prolonged solitary confinement on a developing mind can be devastating.  Below is a brief look-back at some of the reforms that were made in 2016.  Please consult this timeline for more information on other crucial milestones in solitary reform.


To submit an event report, please send a description and pictures or links to us at togethertoendsolitary@gmail.com.

Lifelines to Solitary

Lifelines to Solitary

For a lot of people, the holidays can be a lonely time of year.  While the rest of the world celebrates with friends and family, for those who are separated from their loved ones, the pangs of longing and loneliness can be amplified.  And nowhere are those desperate feelings of loneliness and isolation felt more acutely than in the solitary confinement units of America’s prisons. 

Take for example, Mr. Arthur Johnson, who spent thirty-six years in solitary confinement, despite having not committed a major disciplinary infraction in over twenty-five years.  That’s thirty-six Thanksgivings, Christmases and Hanukkahs - without so much as a hug or a handshake.  Having spent over 80% of his life in solitary confinement, this holiday season Mr. Johnson will finally have the opportunity to shake hands with someone other than his attorneys.  On September 20, 2016, Chief Judge Conner of the District Court for Middle District of Pennsylvania issued an Order for Preliminary Injunction directing the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to release Mr. Johnson from solitary confinement and to implement a plan to reintegrate him back into general population.


To submit an event report, please send a description and pictures or links to us at togethertoendsolitary@gmail.com.

"Solitary Gardens" Opens In New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward

"Solitary Gardens" Opens In New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward

On October 1, 2016, an inspirational project, focused on drawing attention to the horrors and injustice of solitary confinement, opened in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans.  “Solitary Gardens,” the most recent project from conceptual artist Jackie Sumell, the woman behind The House that Herman Built, is a park at 2600 Andry Street in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward.  It features ten garden beds, the same size and blueprints as solitary cells, as well as open spaces for collective study and community support.    


To submit an event report, please send a description and pictures or links to us at togethertoendsolitary@gmail.com.

Building Support for the HALT Solitary Confinement Act in New York

Building Support for the HALT Solitary Confinement Act in New York

Today, for the 15th consecutive month, advocates will unite across the state of New York to raise their voices in solidarity and demand an end to the practice of solitary confinement.  Organized by the New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC), these monthly rallies bring together a varied cross-section of the advocacy world – from long standing, staunch opponents of solitary confinement, to concerned community members, just beginning to understand the pernicious effects of long-term isolated confinement, to those affected most by solitary confinement – formerly incarcerated persons and family members of currently incarcerated people.


To submit an event report, please send a description and pictures or links to us at togethertoendsolitary@gmail.com.

Solitary Man: My Visit to Pelican Bay State Prison

Solitary Man: My Visit to Pelican Bay State Prison

From 2011-2013, inmates in the Security Housing Units (a thinly veiled euphemism for solitary confinement) of Pelican Bay State Prison in California went on a series of hunger strikes.  The largest of these strikes began on July 8, 2013, when more than 30,000 inmates throughout state-prisons in California refused state issued food

Concurrent with the hunger strikes, in May 2012, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed Ashker v. Governor of California, a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of inmates who had spent more than a decade in solitary confinement.  The landmark settlement agreement that was reached in Ashker dramatically reduced the solitary confinement population; ended the practice of placing inmates who had not violated any prison rules in isolation; and put a limit on the length of time a prisoner could spend in solitary confinement.

The Ashker case could not have existed without the brave men and women who put their own safety and health at risk by staging the largest hunger strike in the state of CA, possibly the largest in the world.  We must not forget their sacrifices, or their stories.  And one advocate, Charlie Hinton, is committed to making sure that the legacy of that historic hunger strike is not forgotten.  


To submit an event report, please send a description and pictures or links to us at togethertoendsolitary@gmail.com.

Bringing Change: Juveniles and Solitary Confinement

Bringing Change: Juveniles and Solitary Confinement

2016 has so far proven to be an inspirational and encouraging year for those fighting to end the abhorrent practice of solitary confinement, particularly as it relates to juveniles and youthful offenders.  The year started off with a bang in January when the U.S. Department of Justice released its Report and Recommendations Concerning the Use of Restrictive Housing.  One of the DOJ’s most pivotal recommendations was that the Federal Bureau of Prisons end the practice of placing juveniles in solitary confinement.  Simultaneously, the Washington Post published President Obama’s riveting, heart-felt op-ed, where he announced that he had adopted the Report’s recommendations to overhaul the use of solitary confinement in the federal prison system, including a complete ban of the use of solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in the federal system.


To submit an event report, please send a description and pictures or links to us at togethertoendsolitary@gmail.com.

Virtual Reality Solitary Confinement Experience

Virtual Reality Solitary Confinement Experience

This past Memorial Day weekend The National Religious Campaign Against Torture’s (NRCAT) Ron Stief and T.C. Morrow were with the Islamic Circle of North America for their Annual Convention, which was held in Baltimore, MD.  At the convention, NRCAT utilized virtual reality as another way to allow people to really see what it would be like to be held in isolation.  With over 20,000 attendees at the event, NRCAT, in partnership with Solitary Watch, had a phenomenal trial run of using The Guardian’s 6x9, a virtual reality solitary confinement experience.  6x9 is a mobile app developed by The Guardian, in consultation with survivors of solitary confinement, that gives users a taste of it would like be like to live in a cell measuring only 6x9 feet.  The app features the haunting experiences of seven former inmates subjected to extended periods in isolation. 


To submit an event report, please send a description and pictures or links to us at togethertoendsolitary@gmail.com.

Social Change Through Activist Theater

Social Change Through Activist Theater

The movement to end long-term solitary confinement is full of tireless, devoted activists whose passion and support, month after month, year after year, is inspiring. But while these efforts have certainly sparked improvements in some areas, still, for many of us involved in the fight, progress can seem frustratingly slow. We are talking about a human rights crisis of epic proportion: tens of thousands of people in agonizing, psychologically damaging conditions akin to torture – and with little to no demonstrated benefits. The facts are on our side, and the issue is one of immediate concern. So how has this practice been allowed to continue?


To submit an event report, please send a description and pictures or links to us at togethertoendsolitary@gmail.com.

Spotlight: Faith Leaders Unite Behind New Jersey Legislation

Spotlight: Faith Leaders Unite Behind New Jersey Legislation

This month, the 23rd also falls at the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover – the commemoration of the liberation of Jews from slavery in Egypt thousands of years ago. Each Passover, Jews around the world retell the story of their ancestors’ liberation from slavery and recommit themselves and their communities to working toward liberation today. That consciousness has inspired Jews for generations to engage in social justice work, including fighting for a criminal justice system free from oppression and injustice. As they observe the holiday this year—especially tomorrow, April 23rd—no doubt some Jews will be thinking of those desperate for liberation from the physical and psychological constraints of 23 hours a day in isolation.


To submit an event report, please send a description and pictures or links to us at togethertoendsolitary@gmail.com.

Special Feature: Marking a Year of Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement

Special Feature: Marking a Year of Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement

One year ago today – March 23, 2015 – communities in Arcata, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Jose and Santa Cruz gathered for California’s first Statewide Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement. In the twelve months that have followed, this prisoner-initiated, community-organized effort to protest solitary confinement on the 23rd of each month has expanded inside and outside the state. With the support of formerly incarcerated people, folks with incarcerated loved ones, students, lawyers, activists, faith communities and others, it grew last fall into the nationwide initiative Together to End Solitary that now links advocates coast to coast in the common goal of putting an end to solitary confinement.


To submit an event report, please send a description and pictures or links to us at togethertoendsolitary@gmail.com.

Spotlight: Students Rally Together to End Solitary Confinement

Spotlight: Students Rally Together to End Solitary Confinement

Any campaign for change is strengthened by a diverse group of supporters, and the movement to end solitary confinement has long benefitted from a wide range of voices. Since its founding in 2014, students at universities across the country have found their place among this chorus of presently and formerly incarcerated people and their families, activists, scholars, lawyers, faith groups and more with the help of the Student Alliance for Prison Reform (SAPR). Representing a wide network of students, faculty and staff from college campuses nationwide, SAPR is committed to using the unique energy and opportunities available to students to push for safer and more humane prisons.


To submit an event report, please send a description and pictures or links to us at togethertoendsolitary@gmail.com.

Spotlight: Ohio Takes on Youth Campaign

Momentum is building around the issue of solitary confinement, and each year brings more dedicated advocates to the table. With the majority of people in solitary confinement held in state facilities, activists have organized in many states to demand state-level reforms to reduce the use of solitary confinement. Very few states, however, have statewide campaigns dedicated to keeping kids out of solitary confinement. The Children’s Law Center (CLC) kicked off its Stop Solitary for Ohio’s Youth campaign last April, and now joins anti-solitary confinement activists across the country to promote the campaign through actions and events on the 23rd of each month.


To submit an event report, please send a description and pictures or links to us at togethertoendsolitary@gmail.com.

Boston-based coalition brings 23rd actions to Massachusetts

Boston-based coalition brings 23rd actions to Massachusetts

Sustained monthly organizing requires boundless passion, energy, and creativity—and few have risen to this challenge as well as the Massachusetts-based Coalition for Effective Public Safety (CEPS). CEPS, a coalition of advocates, parolees, family members, formerly incarcerated individuals and more, brought the campaign of coordinated action to Massachusetts in June 2015. Some of the most active organizations within CEPS include Prisoners’ Legal Services and the Criminal Justice Policy Coalition.


To submit an event report, please send a description and pictures or links to us at togethertoendsolitary@gmail.com.

Spotlight: New York Campaign Urges End to Solitary Confinement through Legislative Action

With over 5,000 people – disproportionately Black people – held in isolation in prisons and jails on any given day, New York State keeps people in solitary confinement at rates well above the national average—and New York activists have come together to lodge a proportional response. The statewide Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC) aims to expose solitary confinement for what it really is—torture—and bring about an end to the practice in New York State by promoting humane and effective alternatives that could fundamentally transform the way our institutions respond to people’s needs and problematic behaviors.


To submit an event report, please send a description and pictures or links to us at togethertoendsolitary@gmail.com.

Spotlight: Born in California, Actions on the 23rd of Each Month Mark the 23 Hours a Day Spent in Isolation

“Together to End Solitary” has its roots in California’s Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, which began monthly actions to educate the public and protest solitary confinement based on action proposals by hunger strikers in solitary in the state’s Security Housing Units (SHUs) in 2013. The strength of the Coalition comes in large part from the courage, honesty, persistence, and unity of families in California. Inspired by the bravery and deep humanity shown by their incarcerated loved ones, California families came together to carry their voices beyond the prison walls. Statewide Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement, mobilized on the 23rd of each month, have been an important and unified way to bolster the prisoner-led movement for solitary confinement reform in California.


To submit an event report, please send a description and pictures or links to us at togethertoendsolitary@gmail.com.

CAIC in New York joins the 23rd of the month actions

CAIC in New York joins the 23rd of the month actions

Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement held a RALLY at UNION SQUARE in NEW YORK CITY.  Dozens of activists, including several survivors of solitary confinement, spoke out against solitary confinement, and handed out information and collected petition signatures in support of the HALT Solitary Confinement Act. For more, visit http://nycaic.org


To submit an event report, please send a description and pictures or links to us at togethertoendsolitary@gmail.com.