As pertains to the Deaf, even incarceration within a general population environment can be likened to solitary confinement. In many cases, the inmate may be the sole Deaf occupant of the facility. In such cases, he will have no one to communicate with, and will in essence be in solitary confinement. However, this article refers to so called control units, Supermax prisons and the other more traditional definitions of solitary confinement.
Perhaps the most notorious case of all is that of the Angola 3 , three Black Panthers who have been held in solitary confinement in Louisiana for more than 100 years between the three of them. While Robert King was released after 29 years in solitary, his comrades – Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace – recently began their 40th years in solitary confinement, despite an ongoing lawsuit challenging their isolation and a growing international movement for their freedom that has been supported by Amnesty International.
This story came from AlterNet. It discusses not only the horrors of unending solitary confinement, but also the inequity with which it is meted out.
But while broad patterns can be discerned, these are the numbers that are missing: How many of those in solitary confinement are Black? How many are self-taught lawyers, educators or political activists? How many initiated hunger strikes, which have long been anathema to the prison administration? How many were caught up in the FBI-organized dragnet that hauled thousands of community leaders, activists and thinkers into the maws of the U.S. “justice” system during the Black liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s?
Human Rights Watch estimated that there were approximately 20,000 prisoners being held in Supermax prisons, which are entire facilities dedicated to solitary confinement or near-solitary. It is estimated that at least 80,000 men, women and even children are being held in solitary confinement on any given day in U.S. jails and prisons.
Reading this article, I was stunned by the time spans they discuss. The thought of being completely alone, in the dark, and deprived of any form of aesthesis for even a period of a few days is terrifying. Imagine being locked up like that for 40 years.
The following links are already embedded in both the original AlterNet article, and in this post, but I felt the need to add them anyway.