Make no mistake, solitary confinement is torture

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From Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:

If New York state were punishing misbehaving prisoners by pulling out their fingernails, I believe our local senators and assemblymen would put a stop to this. Yet the legislature continues to allow the extended use of solitary confinement in prisons. Make no mistake, this is torture.

Don’t take my word for it. Go spend 15 minutes in the replica solitary confinement cell that the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement has put on display at South Wedge Mission. You will see why the United Nations has called for an absolute prohibition on keeping people in solitary confinement for more than 15 days.

In New York, some people have been kept in solitary confinement — spending 22 to 24 hours a day in a tiny cell with no real human contact — for 15 years. The sensory deprivation, lack of interaction and extreme idleness of this punishment is causing intense suffering and psychological damage to thousands of people in New York’s prisons right now.

“It’s an awful thing, solitary,” said Senator John McCain, who was held in solitary confinement while a prisoner of war in Vietnam. “It crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance more effectively than any other form of mistreatment.” When considering his statement that solitary confinement was the worst of his suffering, know that McCain was also bayoneted in the abdomen and the foot, suffered broken arms and legs and cracked ribs, endured countless beatings and was starved to 105 pounds.

“You’re not sending them in there to rehabilitate them, you are sending them in there to lose their minds.” said Jerome Wright, a CAIC organizer who spent years in solitary confinement while in a New York prison. Read the entire blog by Erica Bryant here.