Books for changing the world
Menu
Menu
Six by Ten
Stories from Solitary

A collection of intimate portraits told directly by people whose lives have been devastated by solitary confinement in America.

Six by Ten is a deeply moving and profoundly unsettling wake up call for all citizens. The use of solitary confinement is deeply immoral and we must insist that it be banned in all of our nation’s prisons. Immediately.” 

—Heather Ann Thompson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy

This compelling collection of stories told directly by people personally impacted by solitary confinement is the first book in a new Voice of Witness series with Haymarket Books.

An estimated 80,000 Americans are held in solitary confinement in prisons across the country. Solitary confinement, often in cells no bigger than six-by-ten-feet, means twenty-four hours per day with little or no meaningful human contact.

Six By Ten explores the mental, physical, and spiritual impacts of America’s widespread embrace of solitary confinement, as told through the first-person narratives of individuals subjected to solitary confinement, family members on the outside, and corrections officers.

Each chapter presents a different individual’s story and shows how Americans from all over the country and all walks of life find themselves held in solitary for years or even decades at a time. In addition to evocative first-hand accounts, the book also includes essays and analysis on how solitary became such a prominent feature of the US prison system today.

Mateo Hoke is writer, journalist, and co-editor of Palestine Speaks: Narratives of Life Under Occupation.

Taylor Pendergrass is a lawyer and activist focused on criminal justice reform. He currently works for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Reviews
  • “Some of the people in Six by Ten were convicted of crimes, but this book convicts the United States of an incomparably greater crime: blighting the lives and searing the souls of untold hundreds of thousands of men, women, and teenagers by a practice that more enlightened countries consider inhuman. You will not find a more riveting indictment anywhere of our reckless use of solitary confinement, nor one told through such a variety of moving, poignant voices.”

    Adam Hochschild, author, King Leopold’s Ghost

    “The voices heard in this powerful collection are haunting. As these men and women make inescapably clear, the practice of removing human beings from everything that makes them sane and stable—keeping them for days, months, and years in utter isolation without light, touch, sound, space, and hope—is unimaginably cruel. Six by Ten is a deeply moving and profoundly unsettling wake up call for all citizens. The use of solitary confinement is deeply immoral and we must insist that it be banned in all of our nation’s prisons. Immediately.” 

    Heather Ann Thompson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy

     

    Praise for other Voice of Witness books:

    "Surviving Justice is a necessary truth telling that amplifies the voices of the countless wrongfully incarcerated sons, lovers, husbands, fathers, mothers, and daughters who languish in America’s prisons. These oral histories give insight into the nature of the injustice to which they have been subjected, but also offer a way forward. I never could have written An American Marriage without the brave and thoughtful testimonies in this book."

    Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage and winner of the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award