Quaker group presents book of prisoners’ own tips on mental, physical, spiritual survival

PHILADELPHIA (July 26, 2012) – The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) this month is releasing the fifth edition of “Survivors Manual: Survival in Solitary” a collection of letters, poetry and practical advice on surviving the miseries of solitary confinement in prisons.

The book will be sold at $3 each through the Friends General Conference bookstore.

Solitary confinement, characterized by 23-hour a day lockout with minimal exercise and lack of human contact, affects an estimated 100,000 prisoners in federal and state prisons in almost every state. Thus the need for “Survivors Manual,” which was first issued in 1998, is even more vital.

“The isolation of solitary confinement is torture according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture. The extended use of solitary severely affects all prisoners’ mental health, making re-entry to society all the more difficult. For those with pre-existing mental conditions, such consequences are even worse,” says Bonnie Kerness, Prison Watch Coordinator for AFSC.

The first-ever hearing by a U.S. Senate panel on the use of solitary confinement was held in June 2012. AFSC supports congressional efforts to seek an immediate end to the use of solitary confinement for extended periods. AFSC recently submitted testimony to that Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing on Solitary Confinement.     

In 1946, the Quakers formed the Prison Service Committee to provide support for and monitor the conditions of incarceration endured by people who had been imprisoned for conscientious objection to war. Since then, AFSC has sought to provide individual and collective advocacy over conditions of incarceration; policy advocacy against mass incarceration; the death penalty, life without parole sentencing, racial profiling and immigration detention.

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