VOICES: You Are Solitary Confinement

By Nicholas Zimmerman.

The following narrative and poem are by Nicholas Zimmerman, who is currently incarcerated at Attica. He has spent, in total, a decade in solitary confinement. The website maintained by his loved ones is  www.FREENicholasZimmerman.com. Thanks to CAIC member Desiray Smith for sharing his story.

You are the most profound form of Cruel and Unusual Punishment Know to mankind, yet the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution seems to have no effect on you?

You are only 6 feet by 8 feet in size, but your impact is devastating and long lasting.

You are a silent killer, slipping in and out of prison cells late at night to claim your next victim.

You are the Department of Corrections’ most effective weapon in inflicting mental and physical torture upon its captives.

Your existence is undeniable; you’ve been around for hundreds of years.

Numerous experts have complained about you for decades to no avail.

You are the cause of my depression, my high blood pressure, my anxiety, my sleepless nights, and my restless days.

I’ve watched you kill people with out laying a hand on them.

I’ve watched people hang themselves from your support beams within minutes of being in your clutches.

I’ve seen people slice and dice themselves with hopes of escaping your misery.

And I’ve also watched the Correctional Officers and Mental Health staff enjoy every minute of it.

You’re a Bitch in my eyes; not man enough to show your face and fight me one on one, but coward enough to attack me while I’m sleeping and inject fatal thoughts of suicide into my dreams.

Through lawsuits, maintenance, funding and security, you cause the taxpayers billions of dollars per year to stay afloat, yet they know very little about you and how unnecessary and counterproductive you really are.

Lately, you have been under fire by the media, however. But will this end your reign of terror? Only time will tell.

I’ve been battling you for the past 10 years and everyday I look at you and grin knowing that you are on your last leg. Your defeat is imminent, but your history will be legendary. Tomorrow you might be a thing of the past, but today at this very minute, as I write these words, you are torturing another soul and plotting your next murder.

And you legally get away with all of this simply because of who you are!

You are…


. . . . . . . . . .

My name is Nicholas Zimmerman. I am a prisoner at Attica Correctional Facility. I am 37 years old. I have been incarcerated for a crime I did not commit for the past 12 years. I have been in SHU, Ad Seg/ Solitary Confinement, the Box, the Bing, how ever you refer to it, for 10 of these 12 years.

With time cuts, I was suppose to be out of solitary confinement October 2010, but since then I have been given 7 additional years of time in SHU for non-violent offenses, which were for promoting my website (proving my innocence) with my friends and family. I was given numerous tickets for soliciting business. Not only did I get 7 additional years in SHU, My only source of communication was taken away from me. I lost mail with everyone, including my mom. I didn’t speak to family or friends for over a year.

Since being in The SHU, I have had a stroke, I have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety and I have tried to commit suicide twice, and very often get these thoughts, but I fight really hard to keep my mind! No one will help me. Wait, It doesn’t end there; out of the 10 years I have spent in solitary confinement, 8 of those years my visit were behind a glass. I had no human contact for 8 whole years and I have not hugged my mother in 10 years! My mother is getting old and my biggest fear is losing her. How would you feel if your mother passed away and you didn’t hug her in 10 years?  Or really got to show or tell her how you feel? Some days I feel I am loosing my mind, in fact I am!

It is very hard to cope, but If I can get help on the outside…from all of you reading this! This all can change for me and for many other prisoners like me! Thank you for listening!”


  1. allan feinblum says:

    Just as the people who foght slavery, I am so convinced victory is close because solitary confinement is so destructive , so inhuman a control tactic ,it has to end. That day will be a great day because that day , it will mean America has become America. People who are mentally ill will recieve treatment for their illness and and treated not as less than human beings, imprissoned made worse in solitary. This struggle to not exclude anyone as a member of the human race , will be the object of compassion that will eventually creat a just system of criminal justice , an economic system and an educational system that doesn’t destroy the lives of the poor , those who struggle each day in prison and outside of prison , from Southern cities and farms to Crown Heights , and the Marcy Housing Projects in Brooklyn. That day will be a grreat day because it will be the beginning of really believing each person is unique and have something to offer society , not to be used as a worker and than thrown out during efforts to maximize corporate profits.

  2. We are here for you Nick! I fight everyday! Victory is ours!! Keep the faith honey!

  3. This is so sad. I know and feel your pain and suffering. Because my son is suffering in ad seg. Solitary also…noone is man enough to help..noone..i do not understand how human beings can watch the brutal and inhumane treatments of those that are sufferring in ad seg. it is a prime example of. Bullying if I have ever seen it..

  4. This is old. 3 years ago.. is there an update?..i am sorry I just ran across this article.


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