Solitary Confinement Is Used to Break People :: by Monica Cosby
Originally printed in TruthOut
There are many names for solitary confinement. In the Illinois prisons where I was incarcerated, it was called "segregation," but most of the women called it "seg" or "jail." No matter the language, it is all solitary -- and it is torture.
Solitary confinement is being locked in a cell alone and segregated from the general population of the prison for 23 hours a day. More often than not, the allowed hour out does not happen. Meals are delivered through a slot in the door, which is kept locked except during the delivery of meals, mail and medication. Being in solitary means being handcuffed for transport to the shower or a visit.
Depending on where in the building the cell is, there may be a window. Often these windows are painted or clouded over, but some windows can be opened and occasionally there is a window that one can actually see through. No spontaneous phone calls are permitted, no matter the circumstances: Prescheduled calls from a lawyer are the only type of calls allowed.
Most people who've never been to prison do not understand what solitary means, or how it affects those who are isolated and their families. Far too many people buy into the myth that only the "worst of the worst" are placed there, but this just is not so.
Does Solitary Make Inmates More Likely To Reoffend - Frontline
by ANJALI TSUI Abrams Journalism Fellow,
As a teenager, Adam Brulotte relished the attention he received from getting into fights at parties. When he was 18 years old, he was arrested for burglary and aggravated assault after punching a man and breaking his jaw in seven places.
Brulotte arrived in Maine State Prison in 2012 to serve a two year sentence for violating his probation.
There, he was sent to solitary confinement for starting a riot on his cell block. During the approximately four months he spent in isolation, Brulotte cut himself, flooded his cell with toilet water and pushed feces under his door. Each incident earned him more time in solitary confinement.
Once he was released, Brulotte tried to find a sense of normalcy. He started dating, got a job at a local convenience store but soon ended up back in jail for driving without a license, an assault and failing to pay court fines.
“It leaves a scar on you that you won’t forget and you can’t heal … you get flashbacks and anxiety,” he said of solitary.
SOLITARY BY THE NUMBERS
April 18, 2017 / by Dan Nolan and Chris Amico :: Frontline
Solitary confinement goes by many names: restricted housing, segregation, isolation. Prisoners are separated from the general population, held in their cells for 22 to 24 hours a day, for at least 15 consecutive days.
In every state and nearly every prison, solitary is used to punish, to prevent, and sometimes for prisoners’ own protection.
There is a growing consensus among policymakers, corrections officials and criminal justice experts that it’s overused, and that it can do more harm than good. More than 30 states are now attempting solitary reforms.
Solitary Nation - April 22, 2014
With extraordinary access this film takes you to the epicenter of the raging debate about prison reform. Solitary Nation brings you an up-close, graphic look at a solitary confinement unit in Maine’s maximum security prison.
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Breaking Down the Box
"Breaking Down the Box" examines the mental health, racial justice and human rights implications of the systemic use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. It is a call to action for communities of faith to engage in the growing nationwide movement for restorative alternatives to isolated confinement that prioritize rehabilitation, therapeutic interventions, and recovery.
The 40-minute documentary was produced by filmmaker Matthew Gossage. More resources at nrcat.org
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After Solitary - FRONTLINE
When Kenny Moore was convicted of aggravated assault, burglary and theft and sent to Maine State Prison at age 18, he expected to serve an 18-month sentence. But after a series of fights and disruptive behavior, he was sent to solitary confinement, where his disruptive behavior only worsened. All in all, Kenny spent five-and-a-half years in solitary confinement and nearly 20 years in and out of prison.
Inside solitary, Moore ripped the hair out of his body. He bit chunks out of himself. He started hearing voices. He wrote messages on the wall of his cell with his own blood.
“It turns you into an animal,” Moore says in After Solitary, a new virtual reality film from FRONTLINE and Emblematic Group.
In After Solitary, follow Moore as he narrates an immersive, 360° tour of a solitary confinement cell, recounting what his
life was like on the inside — and how that experience has impacted his life now that he’s a free man.
The film is a visceral window into the practice of solitary confinement, which Maine State Prison began reducing the use of while Moore was locked up. The prison also started offering rehabilitation classes to inmates, and says that since 2011, rates of violence and self-harm have dropped dramatically. But studies show that inmates who have spent significant time in solitary are more likely to be sent back to prison.
Meanwhile, Moore, who was released last fall, is struggling to adjust to life on the outside. He rarely leaves his bedroom. It is, he says, his “own personal prison” — and the place where he feels most safe.
Why Illinois's House Bill 531 or Any Parole Bill or Sentencing Reform Should Be Retroactive: Truth Out - 2/11/2018
Why Illinois's House Bill 531 or Any Parole Bill or Sentencing Reform Should Be Retroactive
By Joseph Dole in Truth Out
Around the country, advocates are pushing for legislation to improve parole policies, making it more possible for people serving long sentences to be released from prison. However, not all of these bills are equally helpful. Illinois is a case in point. A parole reform bill is passing through the legislature, House Bill 531, but it is not "retroactive" -- meaning it will not apply to any of the tens of thousands of Illinoisans currently serving long sentences in Illinois prisons.
Reducing Solitary Confinement, One Cell At A TimeAPRIL 18, 2017 / by PRIYANKA BOGHANI
Maine is among more than 30 states that have moved in recent years to reduce their use of solitary as prison hunger strikes, lawsuits and activism have brought new scrutiny to the mental health effects of isolation, and the risks that freed prisoners might pose following long-term exposure to solitary.
Last Days of Solitary - Frontline April 18, 2017
Inside one state’s ambitious attempt to decrease its use of solitary — and what happens when prisoners who have spent considerable time in isolation try to integrate back into society.
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“These are not tears of sadness; these are tears of peace.” “I came in here broken; now I am whole.”
These are things shared with us by some of the incarcerated women at Logan Correctional Center, in our first session of Telling Our Stories, Transforming Our Lives, the 12-session covenant group led by UUPMI. We finally, after a negotiation with the prison administration that was strung out over a couple of years, held our first session on January 6, 2018. A historic occasion! There were three of us there leading the session – Cindy Cotton, a volunteer from the UU congregation in Bloomington/Normal; the Rev. Karen Mooney, our UUPMI minister and executive director; and the Rev. Marcia Curtis (that would be me!), the president of the UUPMI board. For the next six months, at least two of us will be going into Logan every other week to lead sessions that we hope will continue to be transformational, not just for the incarcerated women, but for us as well, as we learn to see the world through their eyes.
We found, in our first session at Logan, that leading a covenant group session there is very different from leading a covenant group session at Cook County Jail. At Cook County Jail, there is a lot more chaos. There’s a lot of turnover among the incarcerated women, with the average stay being only about a month, and there’s a lot of turnover in the staff, with a whole new set of Correctional Officers (COs) every 90 days. When you’re in jail, you’re in a transitional space, physically and emotionally – waiting to be tried (because you couldn’t cover bail), or serving a short sentence (something less than a year). We’ve found that some women are there for longer periods of time, as much as a few years, while awaiting trial. But for the most part, the women who come to the covenant group sessions don’t know what’s going to happen to them next – when (or if) they’ll get out, whether they’ll be able to stay clean and sober (so far, the women we’ve worked with there are all in an addiction treatment program), whether their partner will wait for them, whether their children will be hurt by the separation. We’re delighted that we already have enough people signed up for our Circle Facilitator Volunteer Training, on either 2/10/18 or 2/24/18, that we think we’ll be able to go to offering the covenant group every week instead of every two weeks, giving women something to hang onto and to look forward to, something consistent where they know they will be treated with dignity and respect, and where their humanity will be recognized and honored. It matters!
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Learning asks us to change – so that the world might be a place for all are free to thrive