Red Onion State Prison is what is known as a “Supermax” prison, located on a secluded Appalachian mountaintop in Wise County, Virginia in the United States. It’s sole purpose is to separately house inmates in their own 8’x10’ solitary-confinement cells, 23 hours a day for as long as deemed fit, some stretches however can span decades having all sorts of adverse effects on the mind of a human being.
This HBO special explores what life is like for both those serving time and the guards who work here, raising difficult questions in relation to different forms of punishment being issued in America today.
Filmed over the course of a year we hear from several inmates who reflect on their violent childhoods and open up about the dangers of prison life. We also learn of a new reform program which has been rolled out in order to reduce the number of solitary-confinement inmates seen in the U.S. but is it too late for many of these inmates with the effects of solitary confinement having already gravely hindered their ability to deal with the stresses of being part of the general prison population?