On September 6, community members gathered for the first Stop Solitary Confinement Campaign meeting at VOTE’s office in New Orleans. At the meeting, individuals who have experienced solitary confinement shared their stories and discussed strategies for eliminating this dehumanizing practice in Louisiana prisons and jails. One of the goals of the campaign is to educate citizens about human rights violations that persist in prisons. “It’s that mystery that allows these abuses to happen,” says Bruce Reilly, Deputy Director of VOTE. Listen to this WBOK interview to hear more about solitary confinement from Bruce, Albert Woodfox, a community leader and activist who spent more than 40 years in solitary, and Vanessa Spinazola, a lawyer with the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy:
“[Prisons] want to keep people in their individual cells, individual lives, individual struggles…The worst thing that can happen to a prison is all of the folks banded together asking for better conditions, better yet demanding better conditions,” says Bruce Reilly. VOTE is building a coalition of directly impacted people to demand better conditions in prisons and jails, to call out injustice, and to hold those officials who are in charge of our loved ones accountable. Look out for more information in the coming weeks about Stop Solitary Confinement Campaign meetings in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and Shreveport, as well as a larger event that will be open to the public in November.