You lose all feeling; you become immune to everything. I don’t care who you are. You don’t come out the same person.
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Last Days of Solitary


“An exquisitely crafted assault on the senses. Directed with humanity, confidence and restraint… an outstanding testament to the directors’ mental strength and creative ability.”
— Royal Television Society jury, 2017

An extraordinary and harrowing portrait of life in solitary confinement.

More than 80,000 American prisoners live in isolation, some have been there for years, even decades. Solitary is proven to cause mental illness, it is expensive, and it is condemned by many as torture. And yet for decades, it has been one of the central planks of the American criminal justice system.

In 2013, the FRONTLINE and Mongoose team was given unprecedented access to the solitary unit of Maine State Prison. They went on to film there for over three years. The result is a harrowing portrait of life in solitary – and a unique document of a risky experiment to reform a prison. The film also explores the 200-year history of solitary confinement in the U.S., and the latest research on the psychological effects of long-term isolation.

Last Days of Solitary shines an unblinking light on a world that until now has been hidden from public view. In unprecedented scenes, it portrays - almost in real-time - the psychological disintegration of human beings. And it asks fundamental questions: what is the psychological impact of isolation? What effects do offenders carry with them back into the community? And does solitary ultimately make us more or less safe?

 

Winner Royal Television Society Award for Best Director, factual
Nominated for Royal Television Society Award for Best cinematography
Nominated for Broadcast Award (best documentary)
Nominated for Grierson Award (best current affairs documentary)
Nominated for Grierson Award (best international documentary)
Nominated for an AIB Award 2017 (best international affairs documentary)

Directed and Produced by Dan Edge & Lauren Mucciolo

Produced by Elizabeth C. Jones

Edited by Tim Lovell and Dan Edge

Music by Jonny Pilcher

Executive Producer for FRONTLINE: Raney Aronson-Rath

Production Managed bY Philippa Lacey and Belinda MORRISon

MANAGING EDITOR: ANDREW METZ


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2017, broadcast FRONTLINE PBS and BBC Storyville