Solitary Confinement

Man in a small cellNine former prisoners describe their experiences in solitary confinement. Produced for the STOPMAX project and video, working to end cruel treatment of prisoners. (Voices: Robert Dellelo, Munirah El-Bomani, Tommy Escarcega, Ray Luc Levasseur, King Arch Angel, Hakeem Shaheed, Bilal Sunni-Ali, Laura Whitehorn, Robert King Wilkerson.) Aired on NPR Day to Day; by producer Claire Schoen, “Solitary Confinement” (7:19 mp3):

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Comments (7)

Generally speaking, prisoners don’t get to this level of “solitary confinement” without committing atrocious crimes. So why weren’t those covered in the story? The prisoners talk of nightmares etc. Same can be said for the families of the victims.. Also, their murdered victims don’t get a chance to hear their heartbeat. What is the point of your lopsided coverage? Should we give these hardcore criminals bear hugs and let them out with a hearty wave? Give them a suburban house with a garage full of tools and place them under “house arrest”? The MAX prison cells are “sparse” and are designed that way for a REASON. It is an insult to the justice system for you to give voices to these lowlifes. Who cares how they “feel”? They are lucky to be alive, unlike their victims. What a waste of $, pursuing such “stories”. I am disgusted. Save your sympathy for the victims and their friends and relatives. As for the criminals, the word-of-the-day is “punishment”, look it up.

Comment added by Suresh Chary on 03.15.09

Suresh — I could not have said it better.

Comment added by Gauston on 04.27.09

One of the prisoners, Robert King Wilkerson, had has conviction overturned and was released — after spending 32 years in Angola, 29 of them in solitary.

Comment added by BG on 04.27.09

No person, regardless of their crimes deserves to be tortured. Treating them as sub-human as Suresh does shoes a grossly dispassionate lack of humanity. These are not irredeemable animals, but PEOPLE. Nevermind the poing that BG makes about some of these people being falsely convicted.

Even if someone is the most gruesome murderer, it does not mean that person is unable to change. Think about just how long THIRTY years of someone’s life is. Can many of us make a claim that we are the same person (by our actions) that we were thirty years ago?

Perhaps if our prisons had an actual rehabilitation mentality instead of this de-humanizing mentality the average person would have compassion for those people that have made mistakes in their life.

“Lock them up and throw away the key” is simply selfish.

Comment added by Floodo1 on 06.06.09

Also, I forgot that in the audio they have prisoners who say that they were placed in solitary for organizing other prisoners, around issues like the guards turning the fan on in the winter and the heater on in the summer.

Sounds just like the worst of the worst right? NOT :(

Comment added by Floodo1 on 06.06.09

There exist one good reason to put someone in ‘temporary’ solitary confinement and that is immediate dangerosity. That temporary time should only be the time to have the crisis come and go in order to make sure the person does not put his(her) life or someone else’s life in danger.

These people and others like them have most probably commited crimes, but they are locked up for it… why does the system commit similar atrocities by confining these people in total isolation for YEARS. To me, this is authority abuse aligned with a vendeta mindset! We see that everywhere in different forms: rapings of the prisonners in Iran, Abu Ghraib, torturing the prisonners in Guantanamo Bay, total confinement like you heard in the excerpt is torture that happens in Canada, USA, and the list goes on!

I totally agree with Floodo1 in saying: rehabilitate them, show them the right path! By torturing them and treating them like worthless shit, society is demonstrating how it wants to treat its people and be treated in return in case of error. This is a total non-sense and a vicious spinning wheel!

Comment added by Bianka on 08.12.09

This practice is horrific. I’m taking this story to my church’s Peace & Justice Committee and recommending that we start a letter writing campaign to our representatives to put a stop to solitary confinement.

Comment added by Lucy Elam on 03.28.10

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