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How would it feel being alone in a room for 23
hours a day alone in isolation? This is how it feels when you are placed in
Solitary Confinement. Solitary Confinement is a practice where prisoners are
imprisoned with very little human contact. Solitary Confinement is very
significant to society because it deals with the topic of human rights. Over
80,000 to 100,000 prisoners are held in some type of Solitary Confinement
across America. With the practice of Solitary Confinement, prisoners are
isolated from other humans for long periods of time, which can cause mental
health issues that can have devastating effects on the prisoners. Another
effect that Solitary Confinement has on a prisoner, is that it can cause a
prisoner to inflect self-harm on themselves, and in worse cases, suicides.
Solitary Confinement is a brutal type of punishment that is inhumane and even
worse, it can affect juveniles twice as bad as adults. In addition there are
Statistics to show that Solitary Confinement does not have an effect on reducing
crime but instead raising it as they are released. The practice of solitary
confinement must be discontinued because this practice causes mental health
problems, removes the ability for rehabilitations, and strips prisoners of
social interactions.

 

Solitary Confinement causes mental health
problems that are destructive to the prisoner. In an ABC news article, Don
Grant (formerly with the Queensland Community Forensic Mental Health Service)
breaks down how Solitary Confinement affects a person mentally. He states in
the article that prisoners in Solitary Confinement can experience mental issues
such as anxiety, panic, insomnia, paranoia, aggression and depression. These
mental issues are developed under the conditions of social isolation, boredom and
sensory deprivation; which causes the brain to slow, and a lack of control with
no personal autonomy. In the book Health and Human Rights in a Changing
World,  Jamie Fellne and Dr. Jeffery
Metzner partner up, conclude and write that physiological stressors (such
isolation of an prisoner), can be as clinically destressing as physical torture.
Jamie Fellner is Senior
Counsel for the United States Program of Human Rights Watch and Dr. Jeffery L.
Metzner is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, at the University Of Colorado
School Of Medicine. Fellner and Dr. Metzner explain in their book that the effects
of solitary confinement are even more momentous on prisoners who have serious
mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive
disorder. They also elaborate and say that suicide rates are much higher in
solitary confinement than those in other types of imprisonment.  Fellner and Metzner go onto to say mentally
ill prisoners decompensate while in solitary confinement and then with their
decompensation the prison than requires crisis care or mental hospital
treatment. Many will not get better as long as they are isolated in Solitary
Confinement.  Featured in the book “Normalizing
Exceptions and the Micro-Politics of Risk/Need in Canada” Kelley
Hannah-Moffat, and Amy Klassen focus on the story of 19-year-old Ashley Smith
who committed suicide while in solitary confinement. Ashley Smith, while placed
in the New Brunswick Youth Center, was placed in Solitary Confinement and built
up over 50 criminal charges for interactions with guards most of them being
over self-harm. From the years 2006-2007 Ashley has over 150 more incidents
dealing with her self-harming herself with a ligature. As she had incidents she
was then placed in solitary confinement for the intent to reduce her self-harm
behavior. But instead on October 19, 2007, Ashley Smith killed herself with a
ligature under Solitary Confinement. Moffat and Klassen in the book that the
case of Ashley Smith displays 4 things: The lack of understanding mental
health, specifically self-injury in this case, prisoners of high need labeled
as disorderly, threating, risky or dangerous, absence thinking about how
solitary confinement actually produces disruptive behavior that gives the
administrators the idea that the high need are bad, finally the poor
organizational effort to find and create alternatives and use solitary
confinement as a default to these prisoners. In a 2003 study done by the Human
Rights Watch, they estimated that one thirds to one-half of those in solitary
confinement had some type of mental illness. Mental illness if a very big deal
and should be treated accordingly and with prisoners being held in solitary
confinement 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 but
instead increases it.

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Solitary Confinement is an inhumane way of
living and how is it even more dangerous to a juvenile. Solitary Confinement
takes you away from the real world while you just sit in your cell and time
goes by. Added to this, juveniles while placed under Solitary Confinement are
at an even greater number of danger as their young brains are still developing.
 In a New York Times post, Amy Fetting provides information on the
negative effects Solitary Confinement can have on juveniles. Ms. Fetting is the
senior staff counsel with the National Prison Project at the American Civil
Liberties Union, and she is focuses on claims regarding the mental and medical
care in prison and also Solitary Confinement. Fetting explains in the article
that these children who are still under 18 years old are spending 23 hours a
day in a cell, and it could largely affect the juvenile as they are still
developing. 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 the
fact that a lot of juveniles coming into prison have a history of substance
abuse, mental illness, and childhood trauma, which adds even more effect to
juveniles in Solitary Confinement.  The
media company, National Geographic released a documentary that gives viewers a
look into Solitary Confinement prisons and how they really work. This
documentary is called Inside Solitary Confinement and it features Justin Rueb,
who has served 13 years in Solitary Confinement in the Colorado State
Penitentiary (CSP). As Rueb explains in the documentary, “Segregation is in a
class of its own. It’s a lot different than any other facility you will ever
experience.” This quote shows the distress Mr. Rueb went throughout the years
and solidifies it. Solitary Confinement is an inhumane way of living, even in
prison standards, and with this practice of segregation, the dangers of
Solitary Confinement are even more immense on juveniles.

 

Solitary
Confinement does not reduce crime but instead, increases it. In a study done by
the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas (ACLU) they conclude that Solitary
Confinement increases crime in Texas communities. The ACLU is the leading civil
rights organization in the state of Texas and they work in the courts, the
legislature, and through public education to protect civil rights and
individual liberty. As found in the study, when released out of Solitary
Confinement prisoners are more likely to reoffend when released out of prison
than 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 of
people released directly from solitary confinement were rearrested within the
same time period. This study done by the 
ACLU shows the fact that solitary confinement tears down prisoners
ability to interact with other human beings, destroys family relationships, and
deprives them of religious, educational and rehab programs that could make them
a better citizen when released. The data from the state of Texas proves that
Solitary Confinement increases violent crime.

 

Despite
these studies and findings of information about Solitary Confinement, people
that are pro-solitary, argue that Solitary Confinement is a strategy that has
been 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 Solitary
Confinement brings stability and safety to a correctional facility.  Donn Rowe is the President of the New York
State Corrections Officers & Police Benevolent Association. Rowe insists
that inmates are monitored through constant rounds made by correction officers,
security staff, prison management, mental-health staff, medical personnel, the
inmate- grievance coordinator and other staff. Rowe claims that Solitary Confinement brings a sense of
safety to correctional facilities and is seen over by prison staff and guards,
which therefore brings safety and stability to the facility.

Solitary
Confinement is a cruel practice that isolates prisoner and changes them and
causes psychological damage that will change a prisoner forever. Solitary Confinement
has also been proven to show that rates of self-harm and suicide is higher in
prisoners who are in Solitary Confinement than those in the general population.
Furthermore, Solitary Confinement is in no reason how a person should live, and
the fact that there are kids in Solitary Confinement is cruel. In addition to
the reasons why Solitary Confinement is wrong you can also add the fact that
studies show that Solitary Confinement prisoners are more likely to reoffend a
crime than prisoners in general population. Instead of focusing on making rule
changes with administrators, rule changes need to be focused more on the guards
that work the confinement cells. They are the ones who see the effects it has
on people. They see the negative impacts and getting the thoughts of better
practices coming from the guards themselves is smart because they see the
adverse practices being in use and they would have a better idea of how
procedures can be fixed. There needs to be a better effort to give prisoner
better rehab, therapy, and educational programs and experts need to be in
charge of programs to ensure that they work. Rooms themselves need to be redone
as they need to allow natural light and other sensory inputs. Also prisoners
need to be kept monitored throughout their imprisonment and see how they have
improved or whether they have worsened, and if they have they should receive
appropriate care. Additionally steps need to be taken to try and rehab the
prisoner to where they do not need to be locked alone.

 

With
furthermore data and studies, information can show the true negative impact
Solitary Confinement has on prisoners, and also shine light on new ways we can
improve it.

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