How would it feel being alone in a room for 23hours a day alone in isolation? This is how it feels when you are placed inSolitary Confinement.
Solitary Confinement is a practice where prisoners areimprisoned with very little human contact. Solitary Confinement is verysignificant to society because it deals with the topic of human rights. Over80,000 to 100,000 prisoners are held in some type of Solitary Confinementacross America.
With the practice of Solitary Confinement, prisoners areisolated from other humans for long periods of time, which can cause mentalhealth issues that can have devastating effects on the prisoners. Anothereffect that Solitary Confinement has on a prisoner, is that it can cause aprisoner to inflect self-harm on themselves, and in worse cases, suicides.Solitary Confinement is a brutal type of punishment that is inhumane and evenworse, it can affect juveniles twice as bad as adults. In addition there areStatistics to show that Solitary Confinement does not have an effect on reducingcrime but instead raising it as they are released. The practice of solitaryconfinement must be discontinued because this practice causes mental healthproblems, removes the ability for rehabilitations, and strips prisoners ofsocial interactions. Solitary Confinement causes mental healthproblems that are destructive to the prisoner.
In an ABC news article, DonGrant (formerly with the Queensland Community Forensic Mental Health Service)breaks down how Solitary Confinement affects a person mentally. He states inthe article that prisoners in Solitary Confinement can experience mental issuessuch as anxiety, panic, insomnia, paranoia, aggression and depression. Thesemental issues are developed under the conditions of social isolation, boredom andsensory deprivation; which causes the brain to slow, and a lack of control withno personal autonomy. In the book Health and Human Rights in a ChangingWorld, Jamie Fellne and Dr. JefferyMetzner partner up, conclude and write that physiological stressors (suchisolation of an prisoner), can be as clinically destressing as physical torture.Jamie Fellner is SeniorCounsel for the United States Program of Human Rights Watch and Dr. Jeffery L.Metzner is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, at the University Of ColoradoSchool Of Medicine.
Fellner and Dr. Metzner explain in their book that the effectsof solitary confinement are even more momentous on prisoners who have seriousmental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressivedisorder. They also elaborate and say that suicide rates are much higher insolitary confinement than those in other types of imprisonment. Fellner and Metzner go onto to say mentallyill prisoners decompensate while in solitary confinement and then with theirdecompensation the prison than requires crisis care or mental hospitaltreatment. Many will not get better as long as they are isolated in SolitaryConfinement.
Featured in the book “NormalizingExceptions and the Micro-Politics of Risk/Need in Canada” KelleyHannah-Moffat, and Amy Klassen focus on the story of 19-year-old Ashley Smithwho committed suicide while in solitary confinement. Ashley Smith, while placedin the New Brunswick Youth Center, was placed in Solitary Confinement and builtup over 50 criminal charges for interactions with guards most of them beingover self-harm. From the years 2006-2007 Ashley has over 150 more incidentsdealing with her self-harming herself with a ligature. As she had incidents shewas then placed in solitary confinement for the intent to reduce her self-harmbehavior. But instead on October 19, 2007, Ashley Smith killed herself with aligature under Solitary Confinement. Moffat and Klassen in the book that thecase of Ashley Smith displays 4 things: The lack of understanding mentalhealth, specifically self-injury in this case, prisoners of high need labeledas disorderly, threating, risky or dangerous, absence thinking about howsolitary confinement actually produces disruptive behavior that gives theadministrators the idea that the high need are bad, finally the poororganizational effort to find and create alternatives and use solitaryconfinement as a default to these prisoners.
In a 2003 study done by the HumanRights Watch, they estimated that one thirds to one-half of those in solitaryconfinement had some type of mental illness. Mental illness if a very big dealand should be treated accordingly and with prisoners being held in solitaryconfinement and not being able to reach the help they need, they aren’t being helped.Solitary Confinement does not reduce the effects of mental illnesses butinstead increases it.
Solitary Confinement is an inhumane way ofliving and how is it even more dangerous to a juvenile. Solitary Confinementtakes you away from the real world while you just sit in your cell and timegoes by. Added to this, juveniles while placed under Solitary Confinement areat an even greater number of danger as their young brains are still developing. In a New York Times post, Amy Fetting provides information on thenegative effects Solitary Confinement can have on juveniles. Ms. Fetting is thesenior staff counsel with the National Prison Project at the American CivilLiberties Union, and she is focuses on claims regarding the mental and medicalcare in prison and also Solitary Confinement. Fetting explains in the articlethat these children who are still under 18 years old are spending 23 hours aday in a cell, and it could largely affect the juvenile as they are stilldeveloping.
While in Solitary Confinement, Juveniles are limited to exercise,reading and writing materials, contact with family members, education programs,drug treatment or health services. Fetting also supplements her argument, with thefact that a lot of juveniles coming into prison have a history of substanceabuse, mental illness, and childhood trauma, which adds even more effect tojuveniles in Solitary Confinement. Themedia company, National Geographic released a documentary that gives viewers alook into Solitary Confinement prisons and how they really work. Thisdocumentary is called Inside Solitary Confinement and it features Justin Rueb,who has served 13 years in Solitary Confinement in the Colorado StatePenitentiary (CSP). As Rueb explains in the documentary, “Segregation is in aclass of its own. It’s a lot different than any other facility you will everexperience.
” This quote shows the distress Mr. Rueb went throughout the yearsand solidifies it. Solitary Confinement is an inhumane way of living, even inprison standards, and with this practice of segregation, the dangers ofSolitary Confinement are even more immense on juveniles. SolitaryConfinement does not reduce crime but instead, increases it.
In a study done bythe American Civil Liberties Union of Texas (ACLU) they conclude that SolitaryConfinement increases crime in Texas communities. The ACLU is the leading civilrights organization in the state of Texas and they work in the courts, thelegislature, and through public education to protect civil rights andindividual liberty. As found in the study, when released out of SolitaryConfinement prisoners are more likely to reoffend when released out of prisonthan those who are released from the overall prison system. In the ACLU study,of prisoners released from Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) in 2006,48.8 percent were rearrested within three years, 58 whereas 60.84 percent ofpeople released directly from solitary confinement were rearrested within thesame time period. This study done by the ACLU shows the fact that solitary confinement tears down prisonersability to interact with other human beings, destroys family relationships, anddeprives them of religious, educational and rehab programs that could make thema better citizen when released. The data from the state of Texas proves thatSolitary Confinement increases violent crime.
Despitethese studies and findings of information about Solitary Confinement, peoplethat are pro-solitary, argue that Solitary Confinement is a strategy that hasbeen proven to restore stability and safety to the correctional environment.Don Rowe in a self-written article that was posted in the New York Post, called”Why We Need Solitary”, explains how SolitaryConfinement brings stability and safety to a correctional facility. Donn Rowe is the President of the New YorkState Corrections Officers & Police Benevolent Association. Rowe insiststhat inmates are monitored through constant rounds made by correction officers,security staff, prison management, mental-health staff, medical personnel, theinmate- grievance coordinator and other staff. Rowe claims that Solitary Confinement brings a sense ofsafety to correctional facilities and is seen over by prison staff and guards,which therefore brings safety and stability to the facility. SolitaryConfinement is a cruel practice that isolates prisoner and changes them andcauses psychological damage that will change a prisoner forever.
Solitary Confinementhas also been proven to show that rates of self-harm and suicide is higher inprisoners who are in Solitary Confinement than those in the general population.Furthermore, Solitary Confinement is in no reason how a person should live, andthe fact that there are kids in Solitary Confinement is cruel. In addition tothe reasons why Solitary Confinement is wrong you can also add the fact thatstudies show that Solitary Confinement prisoners are more likely to reoffend acrime than prisoners in general population. Instead of focusing on making rulechanges with administrators, rule changes need to be focused more on the guardsthat work the confinement cells. They are the ones who see the effects it hason people. They see the negative impacts and getting the thoughts of betterpractices coming from the guards themselves is smart because they see theadverse practices being in use and they would have a better idea of howprocedures can be fixed. There needs to be a better effort to give prisonerbetter rehab, therapy, and educational programs and experts need to be incharge of programs to ensure that they work. Rooms themselves need to be redoneas they need to allow natural light and other sensory inputs.
Also prisonersneed to be kept monitored throughout their imprisonment and see how they haveimproved or whether they have worsened, and if they have they should receiveappropriate care. Additionally steps need to be taken to try and rehab theprisoner to where they do not need to be locked alone. Withfurthermore data and studies, information can show the true negative impactSolitary Confinement has on prisoners, and also shine light on new ways we canimprove it.