Locked Up In America

April 22, 2014
Solitary NationWith unprecedented access, FRONTLINE uncovers the raw reality of solitary confinement.
Prison StateAn intimate look at the cycle of mass incarceration in America and one state's effort to reverse the trend.



Senators Seek to Curb Federal Prison Sentences for Drug Crimes

A newly unveiled bipartisan plan would be among the most significant criminal justice reform legislation in decades.

California Agrees to Overhaul Solitary Confinement in Prisons

California has agreed to place limits on how long prisoners can spend in solitary confinement, and review the cases of thousands who are currently in isolation.

Locked Up In America: Stephen’s Story

States across the country have started rethinking the use of solitary confinement. For inmates like Stephen Kirkley, one of the worst behaved inmates at the Maine State Prison, that means a transfer out of solitary to the prison’s mental health unit.

Locked Up In America: Christel’s Story

Christel Tribble says she wants to be on “American Idol,” or maybe even become a detective someday. But in Beecher Terrace — a housing project where around one in six people cycle in and out of prison every year — the odds seem stacked against her.

Justice Department Probes Another “School-to-Prison Pipeline”

In Texas, skipping school is a crime. Now, the Department of Justice is investigating whether Dallas County in Texas unfairly punishes certain kids for missing school.

New Report Slams “Unprecedented” Growth in US Prisons

Despite a dramatic boom in incarceration rates, a new report finds that the deterrent effect of tough-on-crime policies remain “highly uncertain.”

CANCELLED: Live Chat: Can America Kick Its Addiction to Incarceration?

Filmmaker Dan Edge and Huffington Post justice reporter Ryan Reilly will answer this question — and take yours. Join us Wed., April 30 at 2 pm EST.

For Some Felons, a Better Chance to Break the Re-entry Cycle

It’s hard for felons to start over. Among states and cities, and even some companies, there’s a growing movement to change that.

Michelle Alexander: “A System of Racial and Social Control”

The civil rights advocate and scholar on why the U.S. turned to mass incarceration, and the impact it has today.

Todd Clear: Why America’s Mass Incarceration Experiment Failed

It devastates communities and doesn’t stop crime, the Rutgers University provost explains.

In Latest Reform, Kentucky Softens Approach to Juvenile Offenders

The governor today plans to sign into law a package of reforms to the state’s juvenile justice program on Friday, the latest step in Kentucky’s effort to overhaul its criminal justice system.

DOJ Offers New Clemency Program for Drug Offenders

The plan means early release for hundreds serving long sentences for minor crimes. It’s also a shift for Obama, who’s approved fewer clemency applications than any president in modern history.

What Does Solitary Confinement Do To Your Mind?

Supporters say the practice helps keep prisons safe, and that may be true. What’s undeniable, however, is that solitary confinement can also take a heavy mental toll.

“Lock It Down”: How Solitary Started in the U.S.

How one warden helped create the modern-day isolation used in federal prisons,

Joseph Ponte: In Maine, “We Rewrote the Segregation Policy”

Former corrections commissioner Joseph Ponte on reforming the solitary policy in Maine — and why it’s a work in progress.

Craig Haney: Solitary Confinement is a “Tried-and-True” Torture Device

What does solitary do to you? Psychiatrist Craig Haney discusses the impact of prolonged isolation on prison inmates.

What Happens in Solitary When Guards Aren’t Looking

Inmates aren’t supposed to be able to pass contraband to one another in solitary confinement. But they’ve found a way.

The Disturbing Sounds of Solitary Confinement

Friday night at the Maine state prison’s segregation unit is anything but quiet.

Feds to Reconsider Harsh Prison Terms for Drug Offenders

The federal prison population has grown by nearly 800 percent in the past 30 years, spurred in part by the increasing use of tougher sentences applied to nonviolent drug crimes. Now there’s a growing movement to scale it back.

Trapped in the Hole: America’s Solitary Problem

New scrutiny of the use of solitary confinement in state and federal prisons found abusive practices and no evidence that it even works.

Additional support for this series was provided by James Worth,
through a gift to the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund.


28:18Stickup Kid12/17/2014
52:42To Catch a Trader01/07/2014
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