The goal of the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC) is sweeping reform of New York’s use of solitary confinement and other forms of extreme isolation in state prisons and local jails. Currently, we are working toward passage of the Humane Alternative to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act in the New York State Legislature.

Isolated confinement involves confining people for 22 to 24 hours a day, without meaningful human contact, programming, or therapy, in cells smaller than the average parking space. This practice is ineffective, unsafe, and inhumane. It causes people detained in these conditions to deteriorate psychologically, physically, and also harms their families and communities.

Despite these facts, New York utilizes isolated confinement at rates well above the national average, with some 4,000 people in isolation in state prisons, and hundreds more in local jails. Although the UN has said that solitary confinement beyond 14 days can amount to torture, many individuals in New York remain in isolation for months, years, or even decades.

Close to 4,000 men, women, and children are in isolated confinement in New York's state prisons.
Hundreds people are in solitary confinement in New York City's jails.
Most of New York's isolation cells are smaller than a parking space.
Individuals can spend months, years, or decades in isolated confinement.
Solitary confinement in excess of 15 days is widely considered to be torture.



This year, Thanksgiving falls on the 23rd of the month, when CAIC usually joins with anti-solitary activists across the country in actions to mark the 23 hours a day that people spend in solitary confinement. 
* Today, share what you know about the torture of solitary confinement with the people at your dinner table. So many people do not know what goes on behind prison walls. When they learn how solitary is used in this country, many are appalled. Grow the movement by starting the conversation today.
* If prayer is part of your Thanksgiving ritual, consider including this one, composed by members of CAIC's Buffalo/Western NY group:  "O God, you teach us to visit those in prison and to respect the dignity of every person; as we reflect on Thanksgiving, which falls this year on the twenty-third day of November, we give thanks for our blessings but we also think of the twenty-three hours every day that our brothers and sisters suffer in solitary confinement, in tiny concrete vaults, excluded from all human contact, for months or for years on end; and we ask you to infuse the citizens and leaders of our state and nation with the wisdom and passion to end the abuse of solitary confinement in our prisons; all this through your infinite mercy and compassion.  Amen."


VOICES: CAIC Members Give Powerful Testimony About Solitary in New Video Series

“We Are Witnesses” is a new series of short videos produced by The Marshall Project and The New Yorker, offering incredibly powerful testimony from 20 people whose lives have become enmeshed in the U.S. criminal system. Two of the videos feature CAIC members. One is about Alicia Barraza and Doug Van Zandt, whose son Ben committed suicide in […]

NEWS: Coalition of State Lawmakers Urges New York to End Solitary Confinement

On November 9, more than 40 New York State legislators signed a strongly worded letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo and Corrections Commissioner Anthony Annucci to end the use of extended solitary confinement in the state’s prisons and local jails. “[W]e respectfully urge you to end the torture of long-term segregated confinement and replace it with […]

EVENTS: What People Locked Up For 23 Hours A Day Yearn To See

By Victoria Law. Excerpted from Gothamist.  No one knows exactly how many people are held in solitary confinement throughout New York State. There’s the SHU, or Special Housing Unit, a special unit dedicated to locking people away from other. Then there’s keeplock, where people are confined to the cells in their housing units. There’s also protective custody, […]

NEWS: Fixing Solitary Confinement in New York State Prisons

By Katherine Todrys, Human Rights Watch New York Committee. Reprinted from the Huffington Post. Victor Pate spent almost two years in solitary confinement in New York prisons, off and on. Once, he said, he was isolated for 90 days for having too many bed sheets in his room. Only two sheets were allowed per prisoner, but […]

NEWS: The Voices Drove Him to Prison. The Prison Drove Him to Suicide.

By JB Nicholas. Excerpted from The Daily Beast. Benjamin Van Zandt’s hellish odyssey through New York’s criminal justice system began when the voices inside his head compelled him to light a neighbor’s house on fire. While the occupants of the house were away, and no one was hurt, the 17-year-old schizophrenic and psychotic depressive was prosecuted […]

NEWS: Advocates Rally in Harlem to Call on Cuomo to End Solitary Confinement

By Dartunorro Clark. Reprinted from HARLEM — Victor Pate gave up and started talking to himself. Pate, 64, did a three-month stint in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day during the late 1980s when he was imprisoned in Sing Sing. Pate, a Harlem resident, said the loss of human contact during that time drove […]

NEWS: Widespread Brutality and Solitary Confinement Followed New York Prison Escape, Report Finds

By Julia Hettiger. Reprinted from Solitary Watch. One year after the high-profile escape of two men from Clinton Correctional Facility, the Correctional Association of New York, the state’s oldest prison reform organization, has released a scathing new report on the brutality that followed the escape. Voices from Clinton documents cruelty often rising to the level of […]

NEWS: New Yorkers Fight For Solitary Confinement Reforms: “It’s Like Being In A Coffin”

By Jack Denton. Excerpted from Gothamist. APRIL 13 — Yesterday morning in Albany’s Legislative Office Building, Alecia Barraza’s voice cracked as she described her 21-year-old son’s mental decline and eventual suicide during his isolation in solitary confinement at Fishkill Correctional Facility in Dutchess County. “We live with this tragedy every day,” Barraza said of the death […]

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