The holidays: a dark time for those in solitary confinement

Written by Aviva Stahl Wednesday, 02 January 2013
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Listen to this, one man’s description of his solitary confinement cell in the US.  Now imagine sitting in that cell during this period of the year. Even for those who are not Christians or practicing Christians, the holiday season can be an especially lonely and painful time to be caged in a solitary cell.  For those who are still in touch with friends and family on the outside, this period is a constant reminder of everything they’re missing – for example family dinners, vacations, or time off with friends or loved ones. For those who are not in contact with folks on the outside, the holiday season can symbolize the personal cost of their prolonged isolation. It’s the same day-in, day-out torture, but magnified, especially for those who imagine their friends or family on the outside celebrating or spending time together.


This is Herman Wallace’s 40th holiday season in solitary confinement.  He’s one of the Angola 3, who I’ve written about before, and he’s the one describing his cell in the link above.  You can listen to him talk about his holiday on the inside here.  Read another description of life on the inside during the holiday season here.

We all know that building links between Muslim communities and other over-policed and imprisoned communities is really important.  After all, we are facing the same battle against racist state policies.  One of the best ways we can start the work of standing with other oppressed and imprisoned communities is by supporting folks on the inside during this especially difficult holiday season. Communicating with people when they’re in solitary is a crucial part of helping them surive.  Letter writing can be life saving, by keeping people sane and sustaining some contact between their small prison cells and the outside world.

So just as we would want Talha and Babar to be given support during Eid, let’s do our best to support all prisoners inside solitary as the holiday season draws to a close. 

If you can, consider donating money to support a correspondence project with folks in solitary here.  Ten dollars (about 7 pounds) enables the project to keep in touch with one person in solitary in the US for a full year.

And let’s take a moment to remember those in solitary at the moment, whatever faith or background. The coverage of solitary may have faded from the news in the UK, but Talha, Babar and tens of thousands of others continue to live in complete isolation day after day.

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