April 14, 2016 – The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has called the use of solitary confinement cruel and unusual punishment that is often tantamount to torture. Yesterday marked the DC launch of “Hell Is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement,” a new book that provides firsthand accounts from 16 current and formerly incarcerated people of what it is like to be kept completely alone in a small cell, often for years or decades on end—offering a perspective that should inform any debate about human rights and prison reform. United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez read excerpts from his piece, alongside other distinguished speakers.
The evening featured two of the book’s editors and two contributors who survived solitary confinement, as well as advocates reading from the work of contributors still in prison. Discussion and book signing followed the readings. This event was co-sponsored by the ACLU National Prison Project, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, and Solitary Watch.