Pacific Historical Review

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The Shadow of the Soul Breaker: Solitary Confinement, Cocaine, and the Decline of Huey P. Newton

by Joe Street

This article probes the impact of prison on Huey P. Newton, founder of the Black Panther Party. Incarcerated for three years in various locations in California, Newton descended into cocaine addiction and criminality soon after his 1970 release. The current literature fails to account for the impact of solitary confinement on Newton’s life and consequently misinterprets his descent into criminality. The article suggests that the immense pressures placed on Newton in prison and after freedom were related to the decline of the rehabilitative experiment in California’s prison system. It reveals the psychological effect of prison on Newton before linking his fragile mental state to his drug addiction. It concludes by demonstrating how Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) surveillance unwittingly took advantage of Newton’s fragility to compound his psychological stress, indicating the extent to which prison successfully prevented Newton reclaiming his position as a significant force in the African American political struggle.

Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 84 No. 3

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Pacific Historical Review: 84 (3)

Vol. 84 No. 3, August 2015
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ISSN: 0030-8684
eISSN: 1533-8584
Frequency: Quarterly
Published: February, May, August, November

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About the Journal

For over eighty years, Pacific Historical Review has accurately and adeptly covered the rich history of the Pacific Rim, including U.S. expansion to the Pacific and beyond, cross-cultural and comparative studies, race and ethnicity, history of empire and imperialism, environmental history, and historiography. The journal seeks to foster dialogue between scholars of disparate—yet intricately related—fields of history by offering a common medium of publication.

Recent award winners appear under "Editor's Picks"

Congrats to these award-winning authors, listed under "Editor's Picks"

Kelly Lytle Hernández, the Louis Knott Koontz Memorial Award of the PCB-AHA for "Hobos in Heaven," Paul Hirsch, the W. Turrentine Jackson Article Prize of the PCB-AHA for "'This Is Our Enemy,'" Beth Lew-Williams, the Madison Prize of the SHFG for "Before Restriction Became Exclusion," Catherine Christensen, the Nupur Chaudhuri First Article Prize of the CCWH for "Mujeres Publicas," and Linda C. Noel, the Michael P. Malone Award of the WHA for "'I am an American.'"