What is Solitary Confinement?
Solitary confinement is defined as "the isolation of a prisoner in a separate cell as a punishment" . Typically confined to their cells for 22 to 24 hours a day, and allowed only minimal meaningful interaction with others. In Texas, solitary confinement is known by many names, and each has slightly different meanings. By any name, it is a torturous and excessively used method of control that damages the mental and physical health of human beings who will most likely return to society, as 95% of all incarcerated people do. TDCJ no longer uses the term solitary confinement in an effort to soften this inhumane practice, but the new terms have not come with significant change. The United States Constitution, Amendment 8, prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. Across the US, this violation of human and constitutional rights must end!
Administrative Segregation or Security detention includes people whom TDCJ has deemed dangerous. They may have tried to escape security restraints, or they may be people who have been determined by the system to be gang members. Because of that designation, they are considered a danger to others in spite of potentially clean behavior records.
ALU stands for Administrative Lock Up and is used to confine those that TDCJ has labeled "Trouble Makers" either physically or politically. ALU is cruel and amounts to nothing more than harassment and discrimination. Across TDCJ there are several boards or committees that oversee solitary confinement. However, the ALU is not monitored by any board or committee. It is overseen and managed by the Executive Director of TDCJ.
Death Row is for those who have been sentenced to death.
Protective Custody or Safekeeping is for people such as "police officers, transgender people, and those under threat from a gang, whom TDCJ has determined face harm in the general population."
"A 2018 Texas scandal involving correctional officers who planted contraband on prisoners to create disciplinary violations demonstrates that alleged violations are not always clear cut or sometimes may not have any basis at all (Lisheron, 2018). Given that those subject to solitary confinement have limited ability to challenge this placement, external accountability for correctional decisions is critical, and the conservative impulse to temper government power with accountability is particularly important to check the overuse of prolonged solitary confinement." -Marc Levin
"These small cells have "NO" water, "NO" toilets, "NO" bunks or any type of bedding for offenders, nothing in the cells... I've witnessed and talked to a number of offenders that have had to defecate in their pants, on the food trays, on old newspapers, cell floors etc. And I've witnessed all this. I've seen offenders standing in their own feces and urine and when I asked them, "how long have ya'll been there???" it's always the same response, anywhere from one (1) to six (6) days." Incarcerated Texan (2022)
National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) has been fighting the systemic use of solitary confinement in the United States since 2006. The film below is a call to action for communities of faith to engage in the growing nationwide movement for restorative alternatives to isolated confinement that prioritize rehabilitation, therapeutic interventions, and recovery."
Breaking Down the Box
Presented by NRCAT
To watch the video
"There are more than 80,000 men, women, and children in solitary confinement in prisons across the United States, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics." (click here to read the article)
"The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has amended its professional code of ethics to prohibit members from designing execution chambers or spaces to be used for torture, including long-term solitary confinement."
Director Celandria (CJai) Foster
Celandria “CJai” Foster became involved in advocacy by helping her husband,
Kenneth Foster Jr., who was convicted under the Law of Parties Statute and sentenced to
death. His death sentence was later commuted 6 hours prior to his scheduled execution in
2007. After being contacted by Louis Reed with Empathy Network (now Dream.Org), CJai
decided to use her skills to help so many more. CJai relocated from Savannah, Georgia, to
San Antonio, Texas, to be closer to her husband and to the problem. CJai started her
Justice fight by searching for solutions to the draconian Texas Law of Parties. Through
collaboration with others, CJai became involved with organizations like TDPAM (Texas
Death Penalty Abolition Movement), which opposes the death penalty.
She has certainly made a name for herself here in Texas, from protests to interviewing and accepting a seat in Empathy Network’s 1st Leadership Cohort, which she successfully completed and graduated. With a background in Psychology and Criminal Justice, she is using her experience to co-direct and organize the Texans Against Solitary Confinement (TASC) campaign/coalition against solitary confinement.
CJai’s passion is empathy-based leadership, public speaking, and research. CJai believes that
more can be accomplished with the Texas Criminal Justice System if people are educated
in these matters and know how they can help. When the public understands the impact
that things occurring behind prison walls have on them, they will become part of the
movement advocating for positive change in our criminal justice system. She has been
honored to speak on a panel for St. Mary’s School of Law. CJai has also spoken on a local
radio show, WSAN, about the Law of Parties. She has been invited to facilitate trainings
for Empathy Network and to be a Senior Advisor for The National Trauma Education &
When she is not volunteering with TPCA, CJai can be found doing research for her school
studies, visiting her husband and seeking out additional ways she can help others.
CJai and Kenneth have written a children’s book they are hoping to get published. CJai
and Kenneth are a dynamic team that has also created and designed an app that will assist
families that are justice impacted.
When CJai finds free time, she likes to spend it connecting with her family. She has a host
of nieces and nephews that add to the constant joy in her life!!