Hi-Phi Nation

Redemption in Solitary Confinement

Inside solitary confinement at a Massachusetts prison.

Illustration depicting a female with a microphone

Listen longer

Slate Plus members get ad-free versions of all Slate podcasts, plus extra segments, bonus episodes, and more. Try it free today.

Join Slate Plus

Episode Notes

Erick Williams tells the story of how one bad night in the chow hall got him into solitary confinement at Walpole. The path out of solitary, and eventually out of prison, took another decade. On this episode, we look at the unique power of the Department of Corrections to do with prisoners what they will at their discretion. Philosopher Lisa Guenther tells the history of solitary in America, and the conceptions of the self that drive its continued use. We end with an examination of what the experiences of solitary say about the nature of human experiences of time, purpose, and connection with other humans. Guest voices include Erick Williams, Lisa Guenther, lawyer Lisa Newman-Polk, and Massachusetts State Senator Jamie Eldridge.

In Slate Plus, Barry and Lisa Newman-Polk tell the story of Eugene Ivey, Erick William’s best friend, who spent 13 years is solitary and was paroled but is still locked up on charges inside the Massachusetts prison system.

For all back episodes from Seasons 1 thru 3 of Hi-Phi Nation, visit www.hiphination.org

Email: hiphination@slate.com

Slate Plus Member Content Bonus Episode

Inside Solitary Confinement

The story of a man who spent 13 years in solitary.

About the Show

Hi-Phi Nation is philosophy in story form, integrating narrative journalism with big ideas. We look at stories from everyday life, law, science, popular culture, and strange corners of human experiences that raise thought-provoking questions about things like justice, knowledge, the self, morality, and existence. We then seek answers with the help of academics and philosophers. The show is produced and hosted by Barry Lam of Vassar College.

All episodes

Host

  • Barry Lam is the host and producer of the Hi-Phi Nation podcast and is an associate professor of philosophy at Vassar College.

Follow