Communities across the country are joining Together to End Solitary Confinement.
Join in coordinated actions every 23rd of the month for the 23 or more hours people spend in their solitary cell every day.
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.
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.
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.
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.