A Look Into Solitary Confinement

Solitary confinement is a form of imprisonment in which a inmate is isolated from any human contact, often with the exception of members of prison staff, for 22-24 hours a day, with a sentence ranging from days to decades. New data and science provides new insight on how humans deteriorate in isolation. In this paper I will include many examples on life in solitary confinement. Life in solitary confinement is it deserved or an undeserved punishment? Does solitary confinement teach inmate’s a lesson? A life in solitary confinement should it mean violating amendments, mental status, or treatment?

An Illinois court case involving Davis V. Ayala served 25 years in solitary confinement. Opening up a whole new challenge when the city of Illinois got a class action complaint. 50,000 prisoners came together and stated “All Illinois prisoners faced a substantial risk of receiving arbitrary, disproportionate, harmful, unjustified extreme isolation sentences as a result of IDOC’s (the Illinois Department of Corrections). 50,000 prisoners felt the need to fight against solitary confinement. This being said the amendments said to be broken was the 8th Amendment and the 14th Amendment. The eighth amendment prohibits the Federal Government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishment. The Fourteenth Amendment means no state can make or enforce any law that takes away the privilege or immunity; Nor shall they deprive a citizen of life, liberty, or property without due process of the law! Davis was sentenced to a death penalty remaining away from people and often daylight for 25 years. When being away from human contact and daylight it can cause mental illness. Inmates when incarcerated 60% already have mental illness, and being incarcerated makes it worse. Mental illness is a condition in which it affects a person’s thinking, feeling, or mood. This condition can take away a person’s ability to function. People are three times more likely to be incarcerated than hospitalized. People with mental illness need help and being in solitary does not fix the problem that is there.

The reality of solitary confinement and a insight on the harsh treatment. The time length is often indefinite for solitary confinement. Most prisoners in solitary confinement suffer mentally and physically. “When the door is locked against the prisoner, we do not think what is behind it. Were we to enter the hidden world of punishment, we should be startled by what we see”. Conditions mainly state the space the prisoners live in is the length of a single parking spot. The space they live in is purely cement with a slot for food to get slid through.

These conditions do not just pinpoint the situation for inmates in Illinois it goes for the entire country. The entire country has problems when it comes to knowing what to do with prisoners. For some prisoners their actions may have ended them up in solitary confinement, but furthermore it does not define them. The types of people that end up in solitary confinement range from transgender, gang members, protesters, pregnant women, mental ill, suicidal, escape artist, and defiant rule breaking inmates. Pregnant women need energy and sunlight and the proper foods to bring a healthy baby into the world. By putting a pregnant woman in solitary confinement means restricting their babies of a healthy life. An unborn baby that has not even had a chance at life is already being punished for an adults action. In the United States our amendment’s state it is illegal to allow cruel and unusual punishment.

Another example up until 2015 allowed inmates to be put in solitary confinement because of a tattoo, or owning the Autobiography Malcolm X. A tattoo is permanent and could have been put on at a young age. A gang tattoo is, by all means, scary to see on any human. Although tattoos can be regrettable because people change and grow over the years. As well as a person that started out in a gang and unraveled over the years. Eventually leading to prison but if a inmate wanted a change in their life it would not be easy. This means a punishment keeping a person from general population for years the effect might be life changing. The effect that can happen on a person mind and body it might be too late for a change. It deteriorates a person's mental capacity depriving them of a chance to fix things. Criminals are not all bad some have a chance at change. A transgender person is punished for being transgender because they know what they want to be. Being transgender might not fit most people’s category, but why punish someone for more than what a mistake deserves.

Many prisoners are overly projected to be dangerous because of their history, and that is not the case most of the times. Suicidal Inmates should be evaluated and sent to a mental ward instead of prison. If need be, and a prisoner wants to kill themselves they will. In this type of situation they should have a mental evaluation and been sent to a psychiatric ward. This is the normal procedure for anyone who has suicidal or homicidal thoughts. By not doing this it is depriving inmates of a life. A life that we are given even if we do not deserve it. A person incarcerated is someone’s family member. A family member that people spend time worrying about because they can not act right. A family member that is loved despite the crime they commited. A family member that deserves a chance even when dealing with the consequences of their actions. A consequence does not have to be solitary isolation that can last for weeks, months, and years. The long term effect that it has on the body can never be redone.

A person in solitary confinement does not get to see their family, nor can they come out of solitary confinement until relinquished. Their toilet and bed is in stepping distance of each other. The treatment given to someone in solitary isolation is harsh, and for years they have been fighting it. Regulations get changed often because complaints are filed all over the United States from prisoners. Some prisoners end up with a condition called PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). It is a condition in which prisoners can get in solitary isolation because they are traumatized. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is triggered by traumatizing events leading to night terrors, panic attacks, anxiety attacks and flashbacks. In most cases, PTSD can last a long time and is only helped by continuous counseling and medication. When an inmate is in solitary confinement, they do not receive any interaction with anyone, much less have access to therapy. Inmates are deprived of many things and being in solitary confinement is only causing the inmate to get worse. PTSD can make people literally go crazy inside their own brain. PTSD not only affects prisoners in solitary confinement, but prisoners in regular state penitentiaries.

A life in solitary confinement means that your rights as a citizen, your mental health, and treatment do not matter in the eyes of the law.

11 February 2020
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