by Katelyn Roesler
One case study that stood out to me was Brian Nelson; sixteen years into a twenty six year sentence for armed robbery and murder until he was sent to Tamms Correctional Center. There he sat in a cell for twenty three hours a day alone for the next twelve years. He had no history of psychiatric problems. Within the first months of arriving he became depressed, rarely slept, lost weight fast had panic attacks, and paces compulsively. Pacing in solitary confinement is something that all inmates do; inmates have worn tracks in the concrete floors (Tietz).
At Tamms Correctional Center the inmates have access to small, concrete walls with a half-roof, which is the only space for them to see the world. For the thirty minutes each day he would lay there and look at the rectangle sky hoping an air plane or a bird will fly by. He found that if he laid on his stomach and look down the drain pipe he could see blades of grass. It has not even been a year and he had quit sleeping, and paced eighteen hours a day. He had to get new shoes every thirty days and would have to go to the infirmary to get blisters drained and cleaned. He would go straight back to pacing and soon the blisters would open again and blood would cover his socks and shoes (Tietz).
Once he got out he has to sit in the corner so he can observe everything, and no one can get him. He said he is real scared out in the real world, everything is so fast pace. When talking to his psychologist he said he feels like he is going crazy and that the life is living is not real. He wakes up screaming real bad because he dreams he was back in the cell (Tietz).
After reading numerous of stories during my research I am surprised the government still has solitary confinement in prisons. How does the government allow these inmates to go insane inside their prisons? I believe it’s abusing the inmates because even doctors say it causes inmates to go mentally insane. The government should not allow inmates to be in solitary confinement because it causes mental illness, and it costs double to house solitary confinement inmates.
With this just being one case study out of thousands I believe solitary confinement is abuse to the inmates. It is said he had no history of psychiatric problems, but when he was released he has all these problems. “Anyone who had been in a super-max or solitary confinement has some kind of psychological damage to leave with” according to psychiatrist Terry Kupers (Tietz, par. 12). He said he has done thousands of interviews of inmates who have been solitary confinement and he said he has not met anyone who’s not damaged. Some prison officials say that only violent criminals are in solitary conferment, but thousands have been put in long-term solitary confinement for throwing food, showing symptoms of psychosis, filing lawsuits against prison officials or striking other inmates in self-defense (Tietz). I wonder to myself how those inmates are violent.
Another reason we should get rid of solitary confinement is the cost of solitary confinement. It cost double to house solitary confinement compared to general population. According to “The High Cost of Solitary Confinement” a super-max prison cost $75,000 compared to the cost of general population which is $25,000 (The High Cost of Solitary Confinement, par 18).There are about 80,000 inmates in solitary confinement (Solitary Confinement, par.1). The reason it cost double to house solitary confinement is because an inmate needs two guards to take them to the shower, and recreation. It states, “Mississippi officials sharply reduced solitary confinement number in two years from 1,000 to 150 and saved about $6 million and has not resulted in safety problems” (Johnson, par. 8). Us as tax payers are paying to keep these inmates locked up in solitary confinement. If we think about we are paying them to go crazy inside that cell.
After reading the case study and just some of problems that are created with solitary confinement, I hope we all realize that solitary confinement is not helping inmates but more abusing them. We don’t put people in a room for 23 hours a day from getting trouble, so why should put inmates in a cell for 23 hours a day for throwing food, filing reports against guards, or showing symptoms of psychosis. So, how about we get inmates out of solitary confinement and into general population so we can save money and they will be on track when they get out.
Kevin, Johnson. “Solitary Confinement Does Not Pay.” USA Today n.d.: Academic Search Premier. Web. 25 Sept. 2013.
Rodriguez, Sal. “The High Cost of Solitary Confinement.”Solitary Watch (2011): n.pag. Web. 4 Dec 2013.
“Solitary Confinement.” National Museum of Crime & Punishment (2011): n.pag. Web. 7 Oct 2013.
Tietz, Jeff. “Slow-Motion Torture.” Rolling Stone 1171 (2012): 58-66. Academic Search Premier. Web. 24 Sept. 2013.