|Torture in Your Backyard|
Torture. It’s not just something that happened at Abu Ghraib or in secret prison sites tucked away in distant countries. It’s happening now. It’s happening in prisons on U.S. soil. Prolonged solitary confinement is torture in your backyard. Inmates in prolonged solitary confinement are confined alone in a small windowless cell, sometimes for months or even years. They typically spend 23 hours per day in their cells and exercise alone for the remaining hour. As a result, many experience paranoia, delusions, and other long-term mental harm. Prolonged solitary confinement destroys prisoners’ minds, denies the opportunity for community, and violates the inherent, God-given dignity and worth of every person.
The faith community has a calling to bring light and transparency to prisons. NRCAT created the 20-minute film Solitary Confinement: Torture in Your Backyard to give a voice to the thousands of prisoners held in solitary confinement cells across the country. You will hear from survivors of solitary confinement, including Sarah Shourd, one of three American hikers arrested in Iran, who was held in solitary confinement for 14 months. You will also hear how the religious community in Maine helped secure a seventy percent reduction in the number of Maine prisoners held in solitary confinement.
The film is designed to be shown in congregations or religious organizations. If your congregation has an adult class that studies a variety of issues, you might consider sharing the film in that setting. The film could also work well in a college group setting, prayer group, prison ministry or social justice committee, and interfaith groups. NRCAT has prepared the accompanying resources below for you to use to host a film viewing and discussion. Please help us keep track of where the film is shown by filling out this brief survey to tell us about your film vieiwing or your plans to host a film viewing.
After watching the film, be sure to sign NRCAT's Statement Against Prolonged Solitary Confinement and check out our state advocacy campaigns.