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News From Nowhere Radical & Community Bookshop

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Hell is A Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement

by Jean Casella, James Ridgeway and Sarah Shourd (Editors) - £19.99  The New Press (2016)
hardback    ISBN 13: 9781620971376 | ISBN 10: 1620971372

The first major trade book about the prison sentence “worse than death,” featuring a dozen haunting firsthand accounts of life in solitary

"Do we really think it makes sense to lock so many people alone in tiny cells for twenty-three hours a day for months, sometime for years at a time? That is not going to make us safer. It’s not going to make us stronger."
(President Barack Obama)
The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has denounced the use of solitary confinement beyond fifteen days as a form of cruel and degrading treatment that often rises to the level of torture. Yet the United States holds more than eighty thousand people in isolation on any given day. Now sixteen authors vividly describe the miserable realities of life in solitary.
 
In a book that will add a startling new dimension to the debates around human rights and prison reform, former and current prisoners describe the devastating effects of solitary confinement on their minds and bodies, the solidarity expressed between individuals who live side by side for years without ever meeting one another face to face, the ever-present specters of madness and suicide, and the struggle to maintain hope and humanity.
 
These firsthand accounts are supplemented by the writing of noted experts, exploring the psychological, legal, ethical, and political dimensions of solitary confinement, and a comprehensive introduction by James Ridgeway and Jean Casella. Sarah Shourd, herself a survivor of more than a year of solitary confinement, writes eloquently in a preface about an experience that changed her life.

(Price & availability last checked: May 2016)

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In booklists: Prisons & Punishment,
In categories: Society, Welfare, Justice & the State,

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