What happens behind prison walls should be of great concern to all U.S. taxpayers. Because torture, mass incarceration, and profiting from prisoners are moral outrages—and our consciences call us to action.
The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world, with over 2.3 million people currently imprisoned. Well over 80,000 people are held in long-term solitary confinement—a practice that is recognized as a form of torture under international law.
Not only does solitary confinement have no rehabilitative effect and do great psychological harm to guards as well as prisoners, but as the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has documented, it is used in the U.S. as an unconscionable form of strategic control—over people of color, people from poor communities, people affected by mental illness, and those seen as political threats.
That’s why I hope you will listen to the courageous voice of Ojore Lutalo, who spent 28 years in prison, including 22 years in isolation. In prison, Ojore made art, collages that helped him express—and survive—his experiences in solitary confinement. These collages offer a window into the true nature of long-term isolation—how it affects individual prisoners and our society at large.
Please view Ojore’s collages and share this link widely, so that more people can understand the great injustice that is occurring in our name, wasting billions of our tax dollars in our prisons.
When Ojore was in prison, AFSC supported him, bearing witness to the human rights violations he experienced. It was important to let the system—and Ojore himself—know that he was not alone or invisible. Now he is helping AFSC bring an end to solitary confinement as we work together toward a justice system built on the respect for human dignity that all institutions must uphold.
There is no room for the torture of solitary confinement in a just and peaceful world, and we all have a role to play in eradicating it. AFSC counts on your partnership, whether by documenting the realities of mass imprisonment or by helping friends and family understand the power or restorative and healing alternatives to our abusive prisons. We are in this together and together we can make a difference.
Thank you for your support, and for sharing Ojore’s slideshow with others.
P.S. At afsc.org/solitary, you can learn more about solitary confinement, its effects, and the politics of isolation in the United States.
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