Hell Is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement
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About the Author
SARAH SHOURD is a writer, educator and Contributing Editor at Solitary Watch currently based in Oakland, California. Sarah has done international human rights work with the Zapatista indigenous movement in Chiapas, Mexico; organized with women's groups against unsolved murders of sweatshop workers in Juarez, Mexico; and taught for the Iraqi Student Project while living in Damascus, Syria. After her wrongful imprisonment in Iran, Sarah has become an advocate for prisoners' rights, focusing her writing, speaking, and theater projects on the wide-spread use of prolonged solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and jails. She has written for the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, CNN, and Newsweek/Daily Beast, and contributes a blog to Huffington Post.
--Heather Ann Thompson (Blood in the Water), Favorite Book of 2016 in Publishers Weekly "A gutsy book. . . . The essays in Hell Is a Very Small Place are not only fascinating, but also expose readers to a whole way of life that is otherwise invisible."
--Bookslut "An unforgettable look at the peculiar horrors and humiliations involved in solitary confinement."
--New York Review of Books "Hell Is a Very Small Place is composed of communication and observation that is not supposed to exist: it is a book as a minor act of rebellion."
--Los Angeles Review of Books "Elegant but harrowing."
--San Francisco Chronicle "The personal accounts by prisoners contained in this book are some of the most disturbing that I have ever read. There were many points throughout the book when my emotions became very overwhelming, and I had to pause and catch my breath."
--Chelsea Manning "[I]f I were to recommend just one book on this topic to an interested citizen, I would recommend this one."
--Counterpunch "[T]hese stories pack a visceral punch and make a convincing case for more humane conditions, better oversight, and continuing prison reform."
--Publishers Weekly "A potent cry of anguish from men and women buried way down in the hole."
--Kirkus "Do we really think it makes sense to lock so many people alone in tiny cells for twenty-three hours a day for months, sometime for years at a time? That is not going to make us safer. It's not going to make us stronger."
-President Barack Obama "Solitary confinement in American prisons has become one of our nation's most horrendous human rights problems. Much more public attention is needed to this shameful, wasteful, cruel travesty. Hell Is a Very Small Place is vitally important."
--Ralph Nader "This important book leaves no doubt that solitary confinement has no place in a civilized society. The story of each person subject to solitary shows that he or she is somebody and that the life that is thrown away is not beyond redemption. Together they demonstrate the urgency of turning from hatred to understanding and from vengeance to reconciliation if we are going to have a decent, moral, and compassionate society."
--Stephen Bright, president and senior counsel, Southern Center for Human Rights "Confronts the moral catastrophe of solitary confinement through compelling and courageous testimonies by the world's premier experts on the matter: the confined themselves."
--Glenn E. Martin, founder and president, JustLeadershipUSA