Solitary confinement. It’s long been debated as cruel and inhumane, yet it’s still used in the American prison system. The purpose is to extend punishment in the prison system, but “administrative segregation,” as it’s called in the system, isn’t all it’s cut out to be. Meals come three times a day through a slot in the door, and the person in the cell has little to no interaction with anyone for 23 hours a day.
Those who are in these cells act out in frustration, often being pepper sprayed or harmed because of their actions. Today, that system is being reformed. While 1,400 inmates had been in solitary confinement in previous years, Colorado has managed to bring that number down to 160.
Solitary confinement is often used to control those perceived as difficult to control or who posed a threat to employees or other inmates. There are sometimes levels, with a first segregation being no more than 60 days. A second could be two or three years, although one inmate reported knowing someone who had been in isolation for around seven years. One reported stretch lasted 24 years.
There’s no argument that can be made to show that this is healthy for a human individual. Isolation deprives inmates of social interaction. It has a negative affect on the mental health of inmates in many cases. One attorney refers to it as continued torture. Anxiety, aggression and depression all worsen when a person is denied social interaction.
As someone facing time in prison, it’s important to know that this system is changing, and there are things you can do to protect yourself before you receive your sentence. An attorney can help you learn more about your legal options.
Source: Greenly Tribune, “Greeley man talks about time in solitary confinement; Colorado moves to change its policies on ‘administrative segregation’,” Feb. 04, 2017