Doing Time in Solitary Is Unimaginably Hard. Getting Out Might Be Harder.

Former inmates on the horror of the hole—and the terror of re-entry.

The use of solitary confinement in prisons is increasingly being recognized as a form of torture. The practice, however, is still widespread, with as many as 100,000 people being held in solitary on any given day. In January, President Barack Obama declared that the time has come to acknowledge the “devastating, lasting psychological consequences” it carries and take steps to limit its use.

In this video, two formerly incarcerated men—one of whom wrote about his experience in a new book of essays on solitary called Hell Is a Very Small Placedescribe what it’s like to spend months, and even years, in extreme isolation, and how hard it has been for them to recover since they regained their freedom.