© 2013

Spirituality in Dark Places

The Ethics of Solitary Confinement

  • Authors

Part of the Content and Context in Theological Ethics book series (CCTE)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Derek S. Jeffreys
    Pages 1-12
  3. Derek S. Jeffreys
    Pages 13-31
  4. Derek S. Jeffreys
    Pages 33-55
  5. Derek S. Jeffreys
    Pages 57-82
  6. Derek S. Jeffreys
    Pages 125-138
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 141-204

About this book


Jeffreys explores the spiritual consequences and ethics of modern solitary confinement and emphasizes how solitary confinement damages our spiritual lives. He focuses particularly on how it destroys one's relationship to time and undermines our creativity, and proposes institutional changes in order to mitigate profound damage to prisoners.


ethics spirituality violence

About the authors

Derek S. Jeffreys, Associate Professor of Humanistic Studies and Religion, The University of Wisconsin, Green Bay

Bibliographic information


“Jeffreys’ book represents a serious philosophical exploration of the damage caused to inmate’s inner lives by the practice of solitary confinement. The five chapters, which make up this excellent book, focus the reader’s attention on diverse aspects of this practice. … this is an important book about the workings of spirituality in dark places. Beyond his analysis of prison life, Jeffreys also suggests a useful and important political reading of the constitution of notions of criminality and normality.” (Maximiliano E. Korstanje, The Sociological Review, Vol. 63 (1), May, 2015)

"A powerful and thought-provoking meditation on the crushing effect of solitary confinement on human spirituality and creativity. Derek Jeffreys has written a brave and persuasive book that calls us to empathize and sympathize with those confined in these conditions, and in so doing to bring the mass isolation of prisoners to an end. This is an important and timely contribution to the current debate on the future of American penal policy and practice." - Sharon Shalev, Research Fellow, Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford, UK, and Author of Supermax: Controlling Risk Through Solitary Confinement (Willan, 2009)