press release



June 08, 2022
Contact: Jessica Sandoval
(202) 251-6572


Call for Investigation into Reports of Torture at the Thomson Federal Penitentiary

National Faith, Civil and Human Rights Organizations Call for Investigation into Reports of Torture at the Thomson Federal Penitentiary

Washington, D.C.- -On Wednesday, June 8, the Unlock the Box Campaign joined leading civil and human rights groups in sending letters to the Office of the Inspector General and President Biden urging the Inspector General to launch an investigation into the federal Bureau of Prison’s practices at the Thomson federal penitentiary and urging the White House to make good on President Biden’s campaign promise to end the torture of isolated confinement in the federal system.

“In 2016, there was a demand for a similar investigation into the conduct and practices of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) at USP Lewisburg’s Special Management Unit after an investigative report found the aforementioned abuses had led to the deaths of at least four incarcerated people. … Rather than investigate these egregious practices, the response has been to simply move the unit to another federal facility in Thomson, Illinois. If BOP expected a different outcome in a new facility while leaving remaining practices in place, they were sorely mistaken.”

The letter concludes by stating that “the current situation at Thomson USP demands urgent attention and remedy. We hope your agency will take action on these alarming reports and launch a formal investigation.”

Addressing the Biden Administration, the groups reaffirmed the call in their Blueprint for Ending Solitary Confinement by the Federal Government for an end to the use of “solitary confinement other than lock-ins measured at most in hours for emergency de-escalation and [the implementation of] proven alternative forms of separation involving full days of out-of-cell group programming and engagement.”

The letter to the Biden Administration further states:

“…as a signal of your continued commitment to an overhaul of inhumane prison practices and an end to solitary confinement, we urge you to shut down Thomson prison. Closing this solitary confinement-centered supermax facility designed only for torture will demonstrate that this Administration will not tolerate the types of reported abuse in one of your prisons. Several states have closed supermax prisons out of humanitarian and safety concerns.”

The letters are available in PDF to the Office of the Inspector General here and President Biden here.

Contact: Jessica Sandoval • Unlock the Box Campaign •


The Unlock the Box Campaign is a coalition of organizations and movement leaders who partner with state and local campaigns across the United States working to end the use of solitary confinement for all people. The national campaign is comprised of a steering committee that includes members from the ACLU’s Stop Solitary Campaign, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Amend at University of California San Francisco, California Families Against Solitary Confinement, and the Center for Children’s Law and Policy. For more information, visit our website at


Protestor holding "End Torture" sign

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