A Close Look at Solitary Confinement


Mother Jones features a gripping story by Shane Bauer, who in 2009 was apprehended on the Iraqi border and imprisoned in Tehran’s Evin Prison in Iran for 26 months, 4 of which were spent in solitary.

Using his experience as reference, he probes American prison policies on solitary confinement, particularly the processes of California’s Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Units, or SHUs.

“What I want to tell Acosta is that no part of my experience—not the uncertainty of when I would be free again, not the tortured screams of other prisoners—was worse than the four months I spent in solitary confinement. What would he say if I told him I needed human contact so badly that I woke every morning hoping to be interrogated? Would he believe that I once yearned to be sat down in a padded, soundproof room, blindfolded, and questioned, just so I could talk to somebody?”

The title? “Solitary in Iran Nearly Broke Me. Then I Went Inside America’s Prisons.”

You might want to take a deep breath for this one.

Nikita Schoen is an intern at The Rumpus, and a Writing & Literature student at California College of the Arts. She lives in San Francisco. More from this author →