Thursday, February 7, 2013

From Eleanor Novek


Dear Friends,
On February 4, 2013, Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced that the Federal Bureau of Prisons has agreed to a first-ever comprehensive and independent assessment of its use of solitary confinement in U.S. federal prisons.  The review is to be conducted through the National Institute of Corrections. Such a review is something for which we’ve been fighting and is a critical step in eventually ending the use of prolonged solitary confinement in U.S. prisons.

We should take this opportunity to intensify our campaign to end prolonged solitary confinement. First, if you haven’t done so, we invite you to join the National Religious Campaign Against Torture's national campaign to gather endorsements from people of faith for a statement calling for government officials all across the country to take steps to end the use of prolonged solitary confinement.  Most of the maximum security prisons dedicated to solitary confinement are owned and operated by the states.  When we reach 500 endorsers from a particular state, we will send the statement, along with the list of those endorsers, to that state’s governor and top corrections official, along with every member of that state’s legislature. Most recently, we delivered 1,000 signatures to the Commissioner of Corrections in New York. Will your state be next? Please join us.

NRCAT has also produced a 20-minute film, Solitary Confinement: Torture in Your Backyard, designed to be shown in congregations or religious organizations with a discussion guide.  Now is a good time to share the film with your congregation and invite others to view it, sign the statement, and take action.

This week’s announcement follows the unprecedented Congressional hearing on solitary confinement held June 19, 2012.  Before the hearing, hundreds of people of faith across the nation participated in a 23-hour fast organized by NRCAT, symbolizing the 23 hours prisoners spend in solitary confinement cells per day.

We hope you will join us in this moment to learn, share and take action.  The new Director of U.S. Prisons Policy and Program for NRCAT, Laura Markle Downton, looks forward to working alongside you in this effort to end torture, without exception. She can be reached at


Linda Gustitus, President
Rev. Richard Killmer, Executive Director

For news coverage: “U.S. Bureau of Prisons to review solitary confinement

Video from the June hearing on solitary confinement can be found at:
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