EVW Partner Martin Garbus Reviews Book About Solitary Confinement

  • Eaton & Van Winkle partner Martin Garbus published a review of the book Hell Is A Very Small Place: Voices From Solitary Confinement in the December issue of the New York Review Of Books.

    Mr. Garbus, the head of EVW’s Civil Rights Practice Area, draws on his own experience as an attorney advising prisoners in solitary confinement in his review of this work.

    If you look inside a solitary confinement cell such as the ones I have visited in New York’s Sing Sing prison, you’ll see…the solitary cell is home to a single prisoner, twenty-three or twenty-four hours a day; the extreme isolation and sensory deprivation imposed by the cell can last for days, months, years, or decades on end.

    Hell Is A Very Small Place is a collection of essays where prisoners held in solitary tell their firsthand stories of a practice that has been denounced by  UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, yet is widely practiced in the United States penal system. The work includes the testimony of penal experts who examine the practice and effects of solitary confinement from a variety of angles.

    Mr. Garbus’ review, like the book itself, does not shy away from the brutal and cold realities of what solitary confinement consists of…

    They describe being shackled to their bunks by their feet and hands, and moved from place to place like animals. They report being fed slop and also left without food in a state of extreme hunger. They tell me that hooded guards, armed with tasers and bats, in body armor and riot gear, extract prisoners from their cells and leave them lying on the floor, beaten, bruised, and unexamined by doctors. Once you see—and smell—a solitary cell, you will never forget it.

    Hell Is A Very Small Place is a powerful indictment of the practice of solitary confinement and Mr. Garbus’ review is a concise introduction to the type of searing detail the reader will experience.