Human Rights

Survivors of Solitary Confinement Speak Out (Audio)

Nine formerly incarcerated people explain the conditions driving 30,000+ people to hunger strike right now in California’s prisons.

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The following is a transcript originally published by Making Contact, an award-winning, 29-minute weekly magazine/documentary-style public affairs program.

President Obama declared that “we have banned torture without exception.” However, some would take exception to this claim. The practice of isolating a person in solitary confinement for extended periods of time causes severe sensory deprivation and has been denounced as torture by the United Nations. But tens of thousands are locked up in solitary confinement in American prisons.

Producer Claire Schoen met nine formerly incarcerated people, who described what it’s like not to talk to or touch another person, for years at a time. Listen as they explain the conditions driving 30,000+ people to hunger strike right now in California’s prisons.


Hakeem Shaheed, Laura Whitehorn, Robert Dellalo, Bilal Sunni Ali, Munirah El Bumani, Ray Luc Levasseur, Tommy Escarciga, Diano King ArchAngel Rodriguez, and Robert King Wilkerson, solitary confinement survivors; Teresa Vaughn, mother of son who died in solitary confinement.

Claire Schoen has been involved in media production, working on a wide variety of documentary, educational and advocacy projects for the past thirty years.As a producer/director, she has created several documentary films and over 25 long-format radio documentaries, as well as numerous short works. As a sound designer she has recorded, edited and mixed sound for film, video, radio, webstory, museum tour and theater productions. Claire has taught media production in several venues, including U.C. Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism.

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