Why did a film crew stay over night at America’s most haunted prisons?

This Friday the 13th horror is real…Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA is known as one of the most haunted places in the United States.  But it’s true connection to horror is as the birthplace of solitary confinement- -a practice condemned by international law as torture. 

BOXED IN is an experiential social media event: a 24-hour “live” stream from an abandoned solitary confinement cell at Eastern State Penitentiary. No humans are in the stream- -just a camera pointed at a wall. The stream will take over the feeds of social media influencers, advocacy organizations, and celebrities.

Every hour, a new quote from a solitary survivor is “etched” into the wall. Quotes are eerie and provocative- -you don’t quite know what it’s referring to, but you want to know more. In reality, each quote illustrates the harsh reality of life for those in solitary and the long term, harmful effects solitary has on individuals. The soundscape is the terrifying sounds of solitary, drawing inspiration from the testimony of solitary survivors.  Survivors of solitary and other solitary experts will also be on the livestream chat at various times throughout the stream.

To transition between the hours, there will be audio recordings of letters from solitary confinement. While sounds, testimonials, and stories are interwoven, the feeds don’t leave the cell for 24 hours giving viewers a feeling of intense discomfort and claustrophobia.



Color Of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization.

Solitary Watch is a nonprofit watchdog organization that works to uncover the truth about solitary confinement and other harsh prison conditions in the United States.

The KBF works to dismantle the system(s) that keep poor disenfranchised communities mentally, physically and emotionally in the struggle.

Disability Rights North Carolina is a legal advocacy agency that fights for the rights of people with disabilities in North Carolina.

Color Of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization.

Solitary Watch is a nonprofit watchdog organization that works to uncover the truth about solitary confinement and other harsh prison conditions in the United States.

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) mobilizes people of faith to end torture in U.S. policy, practice, and culture.

Return Strong is a grassroots organization committed to deconstructing the prison industrial complex by unapologetically fighting to center folx of color and people experiencing poverty in all phases of the criminal legal and correctional systems.



Solitary confinement might seem like a niche issue, but it’s a lynch pin in our system of mass incarceration.  122,000 people are in solitary right now and 85% of incarcerated populations experience solitary. 

What is Solitary?

Solitary confinement generally involves the placement of a person, alone or with a cellmate, in a locked room or cell for as long as 22 hours or more per day without meaningful access to human contact, often for almost any reason, with or without the person’s consent, and can occur in pretrial or post-conviction detention. Access to exercise, programming, and family visitation are either greatly curtailed or completely denied. People often receive food through a slot in the door and have “recreation” alone in an empty cage.[10]

How does it harm?

The result of solitary confinement is severe human, social, and sensory deprivation. In turn, solitary confinement inflicts immense suffering and causes people to deteriorate mentally, physically, and socially. It causes psychosis, anxiety, depression, and heart disease, and too often leads to self-mutilation and death by suicide and other causes. .[10]

Does it work?

According to multiple studies and reports, putting people in isolation does not lead to safer prisons or safer communities. Research indicates that isolation causes more violence inside correctional facilities, a marked increase in mental illness, and increased harm to the communities survivors are placed in following incarceration.[11] There are many safe and proven alternatives that could reduce violence, increase public safety, and cut incarceration costs.

Is it really torture?

The eighth amendment to the United States Constitution states that “cruel and unusual punishment” can not be administered to people in correctional facilities. According to international law, solitary confinement is torture and a violation of human rights. International experts have called for the abolishment of solitary confinement because of its harmful effects on mental and physical health of people who are incarcerated. Yet, the practice remains widespread in the US. [13]

Isn't it for the worst of the worst?

Contrary to the pervasive myth that solitary confinement is primarily reserved for the "worst of the worst" in the prison system, the reality paints a much bleaker picture. In practice, solitary confinement is often used as an abuse of power, and a startling 85% of individuals find themselves in isolation for minor infractions, such as possessing an extra piece of fruit or, shockingly, as a form of retaliation for reporting abuse within the prison system.

What about kids?

30% of youth held in juvenile facilities report being held in solitary confinement for some period of time. In adult prisons and jails, young people are disproportionately locked in solitary. Because their brains are still developing the psychological effects are great and often irreversible. In addition, youth in solitary are kept from educational opportunities and the ability to develop social skills. According to experts, “young people are psychologically unable to handle solitary confinement…and the traumatic experience has a profound effect on their chance to rehabilitate and grow.” [12]

Is this a racial justice issue?

Like mass incarceration itself, research shows that solitary confinement is disproportionately inflicted on Black people, Latinx people, Native people, and other people of color. People of color are far more likely to be isolated than their white counterparts. In one California study, 86% of people in isolation were Latinx and in New York State 82% of people in solitary are Black or Latinx. [14]

What can I do?

Joining the fight against solitary confinement is a crucial step towards upholding human rights and reforming our criminal justice system. The End Solitary Confinement Act, championed by Cori Bush, represents a beacon of hope in this endeavor. By supporting this legislation, you can make a tangible difference in the lives of countless incarcerated individuals who suffer needlessly in isolation. Together, we can work towards a more compassionate and just society where punitive measures are replaced with effective rehabilitation strategies.