‘Breaking Down the Box’

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Religious Campaign Against Torture has released a new film, “Breaking Down the Box,” a 40-minute documentary for communities of faith, to expose the torture of solitary confinement in the context of mass incarceration in the United States.

Breaking Down the Box

Produced by filmmaker Matthew Gossage, the film examines the mental-health, racial-justice and human-rights implications of the systemic use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons.

It is a call to action for communities of faith to engage in the growing nationwide movement for restorative alternatives to isolated confinement that prioritize rehabilitation, therapeutic interventions, and recovery.

You can watch the film online, and then download or order a DVD for use in your congregation or community, at no cost.

The Rev. Laura Markle Downton, NRCAT director of U.S. Prisons Policy & Program, encourages sharing this new resource in your community during June, which is Torture Awareness Month, and throughout the year.

Additional promotional and discussion materials are available at Breaking Down the Box. These include a discussion guide and a customizable poster to promote your showing.

Downton suggested that after watching the film, you should be sure to sign NRCAT's Statement Against Prolonged Solitary Confinement and check out the organization’s state advocacy campaigns.

Editor's note: The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) has over 320 religious organizations as members. These include: evangelical Christians, Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, mainline Protestants, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Bahá’ís, and Buddhists. Member organizations include national denominational and faith group bodies, regional entities such as state ecumenical agencies, and local religious organizations and congregations. NRCAT works for an end to torture in four areas:

  1. To ensure that U.S.-sponsored torture of detainees never happens again.
  2. To end the use of torture in U.S. prisons and detention facilities, in particular the use of prolonged solitary confinement.
  3. To end U.S. support (direct or indirect) of any country that engages in torture and to work for U.S. policies that help other nations stop their torture practices.
  4. To end the bigotry and hatred that promotes the practice and acceptance of torture against religiously, ethnically and other targeted groups. Since the fall of 2010, NRCAT has worked for an end to anti-Muslim bigotry.

Letter to the Editor