Last Days of Solitary
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)