Hell is a Very Small Place

Voices from Solitary Confinement edited by Jean Casella, James Ridgeway, Sarah Shourd

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The Box

A story about the resilience of the human spirit—and its limits—this play leaves us with a glimmer of hope for the possibility of real transformation, even under the harshest and most horrifying conditions in U.S. prisons today.

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A Sliver of Light (Tour. Reviews. Order info)

Order A Sliver of Light now From 2009 to 2010 I was held as a political hostage by the Iranian government alongside my now-husband Shane Bauer and friend Josh Fattal. Our memoir A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran will be published by Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt on March 18th, 2014. “In this poignant memoir, […]

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Prolonged Solitary Confinement is Torture

The U.S. has the highest per capita prison population in the world and more people in prolonged solitary confinement than any other country. It doesn’t matter if a person is innocent or guilty, we have no right torture them. Since her release from prison in Iran, Sarah has joined nation-wide efforts to ban and/or severely […]

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November 30, 2015 - Oakland, California, United States: Sarah Shourd, of Oakland, in her home. On July 31, 2009, Shourd was captured, along with her two companions, while hiking near the unmarked Iran/Iraq border in semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan while on a trip from her home in Damascus, Syria. She was held in solitary confinement for 410 days before being released, without a trial, by President Ahmadinejad on ?compassionate grounds,? a move designed to ease international pressure against the Iranian government. Shourd is an author, prisoner rights advocate, Contributing Editor at Solitary Watch, and a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley. She writes, speaks and advocates against the use of prolonged solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. She co-authored a memoir A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran, published in 2014. She co-edited an anthology Hell is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement, to be published by New Press in 2016. Her play, Opening the Box, will premiere at Z Space in San Francisco in July, 2016. (Lea Suzuki/San Francisco Chronicle/Polaris) ///

Speaking Engagements

Sarah is available to give powerful and inspiring keynote speeches and guest lectures. Schedule a booking now with Jen Angel- jen@aidandabet.org “Sarah Shourd is the only American women who has survived a foreign government kidnapping, then returned to help rescue her husband and friend from the same hands that imprisoned her for over a year. It has […]

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sarah's journalism

Should Inmates Be Allowed To Use Facebook?

In recent years, Facebook routinely deleted the accounts of inmates in response to requests by prison officials. NPR’s Arun Rath speaks with Sarah Shourd of The Daily Beast about debate over whether inmates should be allowed access to social media.…

human rights in iran

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian speaks in the newspaper's offices in Washington, DC in a November 6, 2013 file photo provided by The Washington Post.    REUTERS/Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post/Handout via Reuters
I was held in Iran for 13 months: This is why I think Jason Rezaian may be freed

Everything that’s been happening to Jason Rezaian and his family over the past 15 months feels familiar. Jason Rezaian is a journalist. I’m also a journalist. Rezaian is from Marin County, Calif. My home is right next door in Oakland, Calif. I was arrested in 2009 along with my two companions, Shane Bauer and Josh [&hel…

end solitary confinement

Leno seeks to limit solitary confinement for juvenile offenders

California prisons are starting to reduce their once-widespread use of solitary confinement after settling a lawsuit by hunger-striking inmates. But the settlement doesn’t apply to juveniles, and state legislators have rejected four proposals in the last four years to restrict isolation of youthful offenders. A Bay Area l…


Become a Human Rights Pen Pal

A Human Rights Pen Pal is someone who believes that solitary confinement is torture, who supports the California hunger strikers and their demands to be treated as human beings, and who would like to develop a respectful and mutually educational letter-writing relationship with an imprisoned human rights pen pal. Click to v…