Release prisoners from solitary: This is psychological torture any way you put it

Print Friendly

From New York Daily News:

One candidate for New York governor, Cynthia Nixon, wants to abolish solitary confinement in our prisons. To New Yorkers like me who have survived this torture, that means she has done her homework.

My first experience with solitary confinement was a 60-day sentence in what’s known as “Keeplock” at Coxsackie prison. This was relatively short for New York, even though standards adopted by the full United Nations state that such confinement beyond 15 days is torture. Many in our state have been isolated for years, even decades, at a time.

People reading this may assume that I was in Keeplock for misbehaving. In reality, what happened was more complicated: I had been at Marcy prison when other incarcerated people refused to go to their programs to protest the mistreatment by some correction officers and garbage food.

I did not want to get between them and the prison administration, so I chose to stay in the dorm. As punishment, everybody deemed a participant was transferred to other facilities and put into solitary.

Severe depression and claustrophobia set in. Finally, after the two months were up, I returned to general population, where I could go to the yard and continue my GED program and electrician training.

I did not know then that, about a year later, I would be back in solitary, this time in a Special Housing Unit. I was sent to Southport Prison, a supermax facility recently cited by the prison watchdog the Correctional Association of New York for brutality and racism.

I spent the next five years in isolation. Some days, the walls of my cell seemed to close in on me. Imagine being stuck in an elevator — for years. All day and night, people would bang on their lockers and scream in agony.

Read the entire article by Roger Clark here.