Watch: Reason’s Nick Gillespie Questions James Ridgeway About Solitary Confinement

A mock solitary cell erected for a recent Senate hearing on the subject.Dolores Panales

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Fans of James Ridgeway, our stalwart senior correspondent, already know of his deep interest in a topic that most Americans prefer not to think about: America’s routine use of long-term solitary confinement in its jails and prisons. An estimated 80,000 Americans are held in some form of solitary, he reports, despite evidence that it has profound negative physical and psychological effects on people and does nothing to make prisons safer—one of the primary rationales for its continuing use.

Among Ridgeway’s Mother Jones articles and posts on the topic is the story of Troy Anderson, a mentally ill prisoner who has spent years in solitary with no end in sight; this recent check-in on the two remaining members of the so-called Angola 3—men who have spent 40 years in solitary because Burl Cain, Angola Prison’s notorious leader (whom Ridgeway profiles in “God’s Own Warden“), was angered by their political rabble-rousing; and a Q&A with Sarah Shourd, one of three American hikers who were captured by Iranian soldiers in 2008, accused of spying, and put in solitary for 14 months. You can browse all of Jim’s articles on his author page.

In this clip, Nick Gillespie, editor of Reason.com and Reason.TV speaks with Ridgeway about his reporting for us and for the specialty blog Solitary Watch.

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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