Jean Casella & James Ridgeway

Solitary Watch's "Lifelines to Solitary 2014"

Jean Casella & James Ridgeway 's fundraiser for COMMUNITY FUTURES COLLECTIVE

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2013 Holiday Card: "Flight" by Five Mualimm-ak, survivor of five years in solitary confinement.

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No card has ever meant as much as the one you're about to send.

The only national watchdog group exposing the use of solitary confinement in our prisons and jails, Solitary Watch has has developed a unique approach to our investigative work. We use direct outreach to persons in prolonged isolation as a means to uncover and document conditions hidden from the public for far too long. This process serves two aims: It allows us to build a body of evidence against a system so obviously broken – and also brings hope to those in dire need.

This cycle of outreach and feedback, fostered by ongoing correspondence and fueled purely by generous donations, has become the key ingredient in a movement to uncover the workings of a practice ripe for change, while simultaneously reaching through the walls of isolation with one unmistakable message:

You are not forgotten.

Meanwhile, that message has become the springboard for a web of correspondence unlike anything before it.

Responses from within include everything from casual musings and cheerful wishes to walks down memory lane and confessions of despair and losses of faith. The one universal response, however, is that of gratitude.

"Thank you and God bless you for the news letter I got today. I’ve read it five times allready and can’t wait for the next issue. I hope this letter finds you in good health. I am hanging in there."

When we reach out and they reach back, something amazing happens.

They begin to tell us a story.

"If it is all right with you, some thing happened to me a couple days ago and I don’t have any one to tell but if you have the time I would like to tell you."

"Voices from Solitary" is a first-of-its-kind compilation of volunteered, first-person narratives shedding light on the experiences and effects of prolonged isolated confinement. By offering this outlet for the most directly affected, we continue to transform the abstract notion solitary confinement has been for so long into the pressing human rights issue it deserves to be.

And it all starts with a single newsletter.

Our cultivated list of persons in prolonged solitary confinement – a list of real names of real people in distress – is now well-past 600: the first and largest of its kind to reach through the darkness and deliver personal, sincere messages of understanding and hope to those starving for both.

And beyond any reasonable expectation, these people we’ve reached out to have, despite the wretched conditions they find themselves in, reached back, touching our hearts and galvanizing our resolve.

But with over 80,000 people suffering in solitary confinement, we must put this initiative in perspective:

Six hundred souls is not enough.

The best news, in our opinion, is that four years after we first began this journey, we now have the mechanism to reach more, and the platform to bring their voices to the forefront. Solitary Watch is the undisputed wellspring of news, insight and perspective on solitary confinement in the United States.

The only thing missing is your support.

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Organization Information


(707) 644-6575


EIN: 912114465

Reports: Guidestar

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