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This animation captures a teen's harrowing experience in solitary confinement


In this chilling black-and-white animated short, Ismael Nazario remembers the horrors he encountered as a teenager: When he was 16, Nazario was sent to Rikers Island, a New York City jail, where he went on to spend more than 300 days in solitary confinement before he was even convicted of his crime.

Nazario recounts the physical and psychological torment of being in "the box," a 6' x 8' cell where he lived for 23 hours a day:

"[In] the summertime, it's uncomfortably hot. In a couple of the letters that I had, from the moisture of it being so hot, the ink was running off the pages."

According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, about 100 teenagers are housed in solitary confinement at Rikers Island — an "abnormally high number compared with estimated rates of solitary confinement across the U.S."

The video, directed by Michael I. Schiller, is part of the Center for Investigative Reporting's project Solitary Lives, which tells the stories of adults and minors in solitary confinement. Watch the moving clip below. --Kaitlin Roberts