Watch Tuesday, June 16, 2015 at 10pm on WMHT TV.
In Solitary Nation, FRONTLINE gives a visceral portrait of life in solitary, told through the inmates living in isolation, the officers watching over them, and the new warden who is desperately trying to reform the system.
With these previously unheard voices as its jumping-off point, the film deeply examines the use and impact of solitary confinement. On any given day, about 80,000 Americans are held in solitary. Critics say the practice is inhumane and counterproductive, and now some states are trying to curtail its use. Solitary Nation follows the efforts of Rodney Bouffard, the new warden at Maine’s maximum-security state prison, who is trying to move some inmates out of solitary.
“It’s really dangerous. You could have someone in here on a five-year commitment. They could do their whole time in segregation. But I don’t want him living next to me when we release him,” Bouffard tells FRONTLINE. “For the normal person who doesn’t work in a facility like this, they’re thinking if you punish them, you’ll make them better. The reality is the exact opposite happens.”