Solitary Confinement Is Torture

I met Ernest Shepard III at a demonstration calling for an end to solitary confinement in California prisons. He was carrying a sign from NRCAT, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

web size Ernest Shepard III

We started talking and I learned he’d spent more than 45 years inside California prisons, including three years on Death Row (where, incidentally, he was interviewed by Truman Capote who gave him a carton of cigarettes and a case of Coca-Cola).

We met a few more times so I could hear his story because as many of you know, I’ve been posting stories of torture survivors from around the world at the Second Chances LA website. But torture doesn’t happen only “over there”. And when Americans torture, it’s not just at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo. I couldn’t continue with the website without including a look inside US prisons.

Ernest Shepard III now works for the Fair Chance Project, a movement led by liberated lifers (formerly incarcerated men and women), prisoners and loved ones organized around the demand for just sentencing laws and fair parole practices. Additionally, the group integrates formerly incarcerated men and women back into society enabling them to “give back and to help build strong, self-sustaining communities.”

You can find his narrative at the Second Chances LA website or go directly to his page here.

fair Chance project

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2 Responses to “Solitary Confinement Is Torture”

  1. Carol A. Hand Says:

    Diane, thank you for sharing this powerful narrative! There are so many significant and fascinating insights. What stuck me most was his discussion of suffering and the type of inclusive world he imagined.

  2. desilef Says:

    Carol, I was so grateful to him for meeting with me over and over so that we could share his story. I didn’t reply to you sooner as I was on a project in Senegal with no access to the internet. Will write and share more about that one of these days — first probably working on a collaborative bilingual article with the Senegalese documentarian who was filming and participating in the crosscultural participatory theater work. But for now, I just must sleep!

    and will soon catch up on your essays about Child Welfare.

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