Prolonged solitary confinement is barbaric. It must stop.
The scientific and international communities have determined that solitary confinement for more than 15 days is torture. Despite this, nearly 3000 people live in solitary confinement in NC prisons. Additionally, many of them have untreated mental health disabilities. A large body of research shows that solitary confinement has adverse psychological effects that increase the risk of serious harm to individuals who experience it.
DRNC launched EndSolitaryNC in May 2022. EndSolitaryNC is a campaign to end the use of solitary confinement in NC prisons for:
- People 21 and under
- Pregnant people
- People with diagnosed serious mental health disabilities, disability, or substance use disorder
- Indefinite periods of time
- Periods of more than 15 consecutive days.
During the past year, attorneys Susan Pollitt, Luke Woollard and Sarah Hoffman have gone behind the walls of solitary confinement units in NC Prisons and reported on the cruelty and injustices that take place in NC’s Prisons for those who live in solitary confinement. You can hear directly from incarcerated people about the injustices and cruelty that happens there (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDdT7oA_NHM). The message is clear: solitary confinement for more than 15 days is torture. It needs to end. Nearly 3000 people in NC prisons live in solitary confinement at any given time. A disproportionate number of incarcerated people living in solitary confinement are people of color. Many of them have mental health disabilities. Their symptoms are exacerbated by the conditions of solitary confinement. North Carolina prisons do not provide adequate rehabilitative care, essential for successful reentry into society. 99% of those living in solitary confinement cells will be released back into the community, many will come directly from months and years of solitary confinement.
This campaign is a part of the National Unlock the Box (UTB) campaign against solitary confinement. The UTB campaign, supported by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, is a coalition of organizations and movement leaders who partner with state and local campaigns across the United States with the common goal of ending the use of solitary confinement for all people. The EndSolitaryNC campaign started as part of a reform effort to increase racial equity and fairness in NC’s criminal justice system. On Dec. 15, 2020, Governor Cooper’s Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice (TREC) submitted a set of recommendations, including the recommendation that the Governor adopt the Mandela Rules.
The Mandela Rules are the UN’s recommendations for the use of solitary confinement. These rules forbid the use of solitary confinement on people with mental health disabilities, juveniles, and other at-risk groups. They also define any time spent in solitary confinement beyond 15 days as torture.
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End of Isolation Tour
As part of a ten-city national tour in August 2022, the End of Isolation Tour brought an immersive, transformative play, The BOX, to The Ramkat, in Winston-Salem, NC in partnership with Disability Rights North Carolina (DRNC). The End of Isolation Tour aims to enact political change and to promote healing through drama and artistic ritual.
Read about our recent event here.
End of Isolation Tour in the News
Voices From Solitary
This powerful video will open your eyes to the shocking reality of solitary confinement. Hear directly from people suffering this torture in NC prisons. Their words are all they have.
Warning: This video contains descriptions of torture that some viewers might find disturbing. All names have been changed to protect the identities of our clients.
How can you help?
We need to end solitary confinement in NC. You can help by sharing these materials widely and spreading the word: “Solitary confinement for more than 15 days is torture. It needs to end.”
Stop Torture in NC’s Prisons
In the first blog post of a five-part series, attorney Luke Woollard takes you behind the doors of solitary confinement units and describes how solitary is torture.
Racial Disparities in Solitary
Stop Torture in NC’s Prisons, Part 2. Another heinous side of solitary confinement – people of color are punished more severely and for longer periods of time in solitary than their white counterparts.
Young Adults in Solitary Confinement
Supervising attorney Susan Pollitt discusses how this barbaric practice is particularly harmful to youth’s developing brains.
Minor Infractions Lead to Torture in NC Prisons
In the 4th installment of DRNC’s special series on solitary confinement, Luke Woollard examines how minor infractions lead to this torture.
Learn more about DRNC’s prisons and jails work.