Fault Lines

The Box: 27 years in solitary confinement

Fault Lines examines the toll of solitary confinement through the story of Dennis Hope, who spent 27 years in isolation.

Dennis Wayne Hope escaped prison in 1994. After being recaptured, he was placed in isolation, where he witnessed suicides, experienced hallucinations, and heard voices that were a figment of his imagination.

After 27 years in solitary confinement, he was finally placed in the general population in 2022 after challenging its constitutionality in court.

On any given day, the United States locks away more than 120,000 people alone in prison cells with no meaningful contact with other human beings. In many cases, this means 23 hours a day in a small six-by-nine-foot cement space with one hour for recreation and a shower.

The United Nations has determined a period longer than 14 days in solitary confinement constitutes torture. Texas has one of the largest solitary confinement systems, with more than 3,000 prisoners in isolation.

Fault Lines examines the toll of solitary confinement on the mind and body.