A pair of silver handcuffs

Solitary Confinement is Torture and Wrong

Terrible things happen in the jail system.  While it’s easy to feel indifferent – or even smugly satisfied – when a pedophile gets raped or shivved, we can never forget that we have an obligation to prisoners.  They are wardens of the State.  It’s you and me who are responsible for what happens to them.

People are in jail because that’s what our laws allow as punishment.  There is a legal limit to what we can do to one another, and that limit is what preserves us as a society and as humans.  One of the clearest boundaries is against cruel and unusual punishment.

Solitary confinement is cruel and inhuman.

Imagine that I developed a strongly sedative medication, but it had a 30% chance of causing you to hallucinate.  Would anyone in their right mind (who hadn’t taken it) find that acceptable?  It turns out that solitary confinement is so harsh that it can cause otherwise healthy people to hallucinate and worse.

It’s a fact that humans must have interpersonal contact to some degree to stay in good mental health.  Sustained isolation can cause psychosis, as mentioned, autism, and cause permanent mental damage.

People who spend weeks locked in a tiny room by themselves can develop lifelong anxiety disorders, and simply lose their ability to engage in normal social interaction.

Those aren’t uncommon results from solitary confinement.  To give a jail warden that kind of power is a violation of the rights we all have, whether in jail or not.

A prison sentence should only cover the time of the sentence.  It’s unconscionable to inflict permanent mental harm on someone using the authority of the state.  People shouldn’t leave jail ruined, unable to join society and become productive members.

Remember that the abuse of power must be stopped as soon as possible.  Any of us could end in jail at any moment, and it’s only the power of our democracy that ensues us due process.  Let’s not betray our ideals.

It’s time to stop solitary confinement.