On Saturday, dozens of peace activists ended a 150-mile walk to a Northwestern Illinois federal prison. They were protesting solitary confinement, according to the WQAD article:
The Walk included about 50 protesters from Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a Chicago-based group. It began on Saturday, May 28th, continued for 19 miles per day, until they reached the prison on Saturday, June 12th. Their destination was the front door of AUSP Thomson Prison, which is located in Thomson, IL, a 600-resident prison town.
Buddy Bell, the Walk’s organizer is also pushing to get legislation passed that limits the amount of time an inmate can be held in isolation cells to five days within a 150-day time frame. If passed, the bill would also prohibit solitary confinement for prisoners under the age of 21, and some others.
What Does Solitary Confinement Do to Your Mind?
Ask any Corrections Officer what solitary confinement is like. He/she will describe it as “the prison within the prison.” Inmates are kept inside isolation cells that measure just about 80-square-feet for 23 hours a day. In case those measurements mean nothing to you, that’s smaller than a regular-sized horse stable.
Isolation cells are are stripped down to the barest of the bare minimum. Inmates in solitary confinement are only allowed:
- A bed
- A toilet
- A sink
- A blanket
Inmates aren’t allowed contact with the rest of the prison. There’s virtually no contact with humans whatsoever, except for the escort to a cage for one of of daily exercise. Food is even slid through a door slot to feed the
What are the Effects of Solitary Confinement on Prisoners?
Stuart Grassian, a former Harvard Medical School faculty member and board-certified psychiatrist, told FRONTLINE:
“One inmate I interviewed developed some obsession with his inability to feel like his bladder was fully empty.
Literally, that man spent hours, hours, 24 hours a day it was on his mind, hours standing in front of the toilet trying to pee … He couldn’t do anything else except focus on that feeling.”
Has your loved one had to spend time in solitary confinement? Did you notice a negative change after she/he was released from isolation cells? We’d love to hear what you’ve been going through. Share with us in the comments below.