New HBO Doc Explores The Trauma Of Solitary Confinement


Staying true to its genre of hard-reporting documentaries, HBO is premiering a new documentary on controversial solitary confinement and the its effects on prisoners.

Titled Solitary: Inside Red Onion State Prison, the film takes place at Red Onion State Prison, one of the 44 supermax prisons in the United States. Prisoners at Red Onion are placed in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, with indefinite confinement lengths.

Back in January, HBO Docs released a trailer for the film. The one minute and 30 second teaser puts both prisoners and officers in front of the camera, as they both speak about their interactions and thoughts on Red Onion.

“I’d love to have a wife, a couple of kids and a dog. That’s all I want out of life,” one prisoners says at the beginning of the clip. “Now I’m doing 1,214 years in the state of Virginia without parole.”

“If you don’t feel like you’re relevant to nobody in that cell, then it’ll make you lose your damn mind,” another prisoner offers.

“When I set out to make the film independently, which I did at the start, no one was telling me what to do or how to do it,” Said director Kristi Jacobson  in an interview with Mass Appeal. “Look, it’s not ok for innocent people to be in prison. And it’s important to tell those stories, but it is also not ok, in my opinion, to forget people that have committed crimes. I also think that in the conversation around mass incarceration which is a very important conversation to have, we are often talking about non-violent offenders or people that should have never been sent to prison or jail. It’s a different conversation and absolutely one we need to have, but I felt like this was the subject I was interested in exploring.”

Directed by Kristi JacobsonSolitary premieres tonight (Monday, February 6) on HBO.

Check out the trailer for Solitary below. Will you be tuning in?