On any given day, about 5,000 of New York State's 65,000 inmates are on 23-hour lockdown. Some are left in their own cells; others are taken to a "Special Housing Unit"; still others are moved to a high-tech supermax prison. These forms of solitary confinement go by various names: "keeplock," "the box," "the hole," "disciplinary lockdown," "the SHU." None of these words, however, come close to describing the harrowing nature of these prisons-within-a-prison. Imagine spending all day every day trapped in a 70-square-foot room, surrounded by only a toilet, a sink, and a cot. Time slows to a near halt. The passage of minutes is marked by the drip of the faucet, the jingle of keys on a guard's waistband, the screams of other inmates, the scraping of a food tray through a... More >>>
By Photo: Jay Muhlin
Elsie Butler visits her son's grave at least twice a day.