Marshall Project Originals
Ending the Golden State Era of Solitary Confinement
California could reshape the practice as other states limit isolation. Meanwhile, prisons aren’t keeping pace.
Violence on the Inside, Mentorship From the Outside
We investigate violence at one of the newest federal prisons and talk with La La Anthony about preparing incarcerated youth for life on the outside.
I Write About Bad Prison Conditions. That Doesn’t Mean I Hate All Cops.
As a kid in Pakistan, police treated Tariq MaQbool like a nephew. As an adult in solitary confinement, the kindness of one New Jersey corrections officer made him feel human.
Prison Labor, Low Wages and the Side Hustle
Incarcerated workers turn to side hustles to survive. On the outside, comedian Luenell reflects on her time behind bars — and in show business.
Some of Our Best Work of 2022
From coverage of prison violence and abuses in a juvenile lockup to investigations by our new Cleveland team, our reporters told stories that made a difference.
The Art of Bidding, or How I Survived Federal Prison
When Eric Borsuk went to prison with his two best friends, they found their ‘bid’ — their purpose — together. Then one day, everything changed.
Prison Money Diaries: What People Really Make (and Spend) Behind Bars
We asked people in prison to track their earning and spending — and bartering and side hustles — for 30 days. Their accounts reveal a thriving underground economy behind bars.
‘You Shouldn’t Have Used the D-Word’
Saying “I’m depressed” to jail staff landed Nicholas Brooks in solitary. But with his peers, he has found a way to speak freely.
Louisiana Limits Solitary Confinement for Youth
The governor signed the state’s first law restricting isolation for youth after two suicides and an investigation by The Marshall Project, ProPublica and NBC News into harsh conditions in a new juvenile facility.
Solitary Confinement Harms Teens. Louisiana Lawmakers Took a Step to Limit It.
An investigation by The Marshall Project, NBC News and ProPublica found that youth in a Louisiana lockup were held in isolation around the clock for weeks.
California’s Longest Serving Death-Row Prisoner On Pain, Survival and Native Identity
As the Monache and Cherokee 63-year-old awaits a new hearing for a 1978 murder he denies committing, Douglas Ray Stankewitz shares the cultural tools and memories he depends on to stay alive.
“No Light. No Nothing.” Inside Louisiana’s Harshest Juvenile Lockup
Teens at the Acadiana Center for Youth at St. Martinville were held in solitary confinement around the clock, shackled with leg irons and deprived of an education. “This is child abuse,” one expert said.
Inside the Underground Economy of Solitary Confinement
Goods are scarce in any correctional facility, but the circumstances are especially dire for those in isolation. Here’s how people in “the box” use their ingenuity, collaboration skills and a form of “fishing” to get what they need.
They Put Me in Solitary for Drugs I Didn’t Have
Lockups use unreliable tests to claim that lawyers are sending drugs to their clients behind bars.
Why My First Thanksgiving in Prison Was The Best One I’d Had In Forever
Between being sober, getting a visit and having a surprise feast with the mean girls in my unit, I still cherish that day.
Life Behind the Wall
Sure, prisons and jails are dangerous places. But everyday life inside isn’t as explosive as TV and movies make it look.
I Hate My Prison Dorm So Much, I Enjoyed COVID-19 Quarantine in the Box
After two decades in a single-person cell, I moved to an open dorm with 30 other men. Between the smells, stress and lack of privacy, I was happy to spend time in solitary confinement.
Solitary, Brawls, No Teachers: Coronavirus Makes Juvenile Jails Look Like Adult Prisons
Youth lockups are supposed to rehabilitate kids, not punish them. The pandemic is making that harder than ever.
The Cruel Irony of Social Distancing When You’re Stuck in Solitary
Our running joke: ‘You may go crazy in here, but at least you won’t get corona.’
Texas Prison Officers: We Asked For Face Masks In 2017. COVID-19 Got Here First.
A state spokesman says the system has more than 100,000 N95 masks, but it’s unclear how many have been given to officers or prisoners.
What Happens When More Than 300,000 Prisoners Are Locked Down?
The United States is about to find out as officials struggle to contain the coronavirus.
I’ve Served Time in Prison. Sheltering in Place is Terrifying.
Struggling with “that caged animal feeling” during the coronavirus pandemic.
What Coronavirus Quarantine Looks Like in Prison
“I cannot help but linger on the faces of the elderly prisoners and think about how they are unlikely to survive this.”
My Cell in Solitary Has a View: The Death House
“There are a lot of people working hard to pull off an execution successfully, and they don’t want to go through all of that just to be cheated out of it at the last minute by the guy committing suicide.”
In My Prison, Summer is “Ticket Season”
“If you move the wrong way—ticket. You look the wrong way—ticket. Breathe—ticket.”
I Developed Agoraphobia in Prison
After spending 22 years in solitary confinement, anything larger than my cell threw me into panic.
When You’re 16 and It’s Your First Time in Solitary
“I felt like I aged 10 years just by doing 20 days in there.”
Rikers Doesn't Put Teens in Solitary. Other New York Jails Do.
Even after the high-profile death of Kalief Browder, jails in the rest of the state routinely isolate juveniles.
Too Sick for Jail — But Not for Solitary
Tennessee locks ailing, mentally ill, pregnant and juvenile prisoners in isolation to help jails save money.
Nine Years With No Sunshine
A glitch in North Carolina law is trapping people for years in unequipped jails.
Ending Solitary for Juveniles: A Goal Grows Closer
Recent rulings in a half-dozen states signal new momentum.
Condemned to Death — And Solitary Confinement
Arizona is set to become the latest state to move away from automatic isolation for death row inmates.
Federal Watchdog Finds Mentally Ill Are Stuck in Solitary
A new report contradicts a claim from the Bureau of Prisons.
Watch: A New Documentary’s Rare Access Inside Solitary
A filmmaker spends a year inside a Virginia supermax facility.
What Chris Christie Got Wrong About Solitary Confinement
Scope, purpose, duration — in short, everything
28 Days in Chains
In this federal prison, inmates have a choice: live with a violent cellmate or end up in shackles.
The Best Guard at My Prison Was Murdered
“Timothy. His first name was Timothy. I hadn’t known that. They punish us for using guards’ first names.”
Is a Life in Solitary “Cruel and Unusual?”
In Pennsylvania, the heart of solitary confinement reform, an intellectually disabled inmate says he’s been held in wretched isolation for 36 years.
What I've Learned Cutting Hair in Jail
“They look tired, ragged, and sick, more so than they thought they would.”
The Unlimited Nothingness of Solitary Confinement
Isolation takes its toll, especially on a young mind.
Highlights From Our Justice Talk On Solitary Confinement
From comparisons to “Orange Is the New Black” to accounts from people who spent time in solitary, this is what you missed in our chat with Digg.
The Best Reporting on Solitary Confinement
Brush up for our March 30th chat on solitary confinement by reading some of the most crucial journalism on the issue.
The Deadly Consequences of Solitary With a Cellmate
Imagine living in a cell that’s smaller than a parking space — with a homicidal roommate.
Death by Indifference
Remembering Robert Knott, a case the Justice Department would rather you forget
What Kalief Browder’s Mother Thinks Should Happen to Rikers
‘There was nothing I could do with him being in there.’
Watch a Video From “Mariposa and the Saint,” a New Play About Solitary Confinement
The work is based on years of letters between Julia Steele Allen and Sara Fonseca.
There Are Practically No Juveniles in Federal Prison — Here’s Why
Obama takes bold action, but for a population of fewer than 30
How to Get Out of Solitary — One Step at a Time
New programs are easing inmates out of years of solitary confinement with surprising outcomes for both prisoners and corrections officers.
What Angola's Resigning Warden Is Leaving Behind
For 20 years, Burl Cain both punished and preached.
What Can Reforming Solitary Confinement Teach Us About Reducing Mass Incarceration?
It’s not about non-violent offenders. And it won’t be cheap.
Prison Without Punishment
Germany allows inmates to wear their own clothes, cook their own meals, and have romantic visits. Could that work in the United States?
Obama’s Final 500 Days
People from across the political spectrum suggest criminal justice reforms the president should enact during his remaining time in office.
‘Justice and Redemption Go Hand in Hand.’
A closer look at the president’s speech on criminal justice reform.
United States Prison vs. South African Prison
The penal colony where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated was “a paradise by comparison.”
New Jersey Moves to Keep Kids Under 15 From Adult Court
Age restriction would be toughest in the nation.
Kalief Browder was a Good Kid. Should That Matter?
The not-so-nice kids don’t deserve to be brutalized, either.
From Solitary to the Street
What happens when prisoners go from complete isolation to complete freedom in a day?
No Bail, Less Hope: The Death of Kalief Browder
A system that kept a teenager in Rikers for three years.
30 Years on Death Row: A Conversation with Anthony Ray Hinton
‘They tell you justice is blind. I am telling you that justice can see.'
Another Kind of Isolation
The Bureau of Prisons tightens the rules at its secretive “Communication Management Units.”
‘Sure, People Are Talking About Prison Reform, but They Aren’t Actually Doing Anything.’
Inmate-turned-journalist Paul Wright on what he’s learned in his 25 years covering the prison system.
Shifting Away from Solitary
More states have passed solitary confinement reforms this year than in the past 16 years.