The Cost of Solitary Confinement – From NY Times

By BitcoDavid

* A moment to mourn the victims of today’s school shooting in Connecticut. *

The New York Legislature greatly improved the treatment of mentally ill inmates in 2008, when it required the prison system to place seriously mentally ill inmates who violate rules into a treatment program instead of solitary confinement, where they were more likely to harm themselves or commit suicide.

Solitary confinement
Solitary confinement (Photo credit: Chris.Gray)

When it comes to the science of torture, there is no nation as expert as North Korea. They literally wrote the book on the subject, during the 1950s. The North Koreans regularly used systematic torture on American POWs during that conflict.  What the North Koreans discovered was that no form of punishment was more effective in breaking the minds and spirits of their victims, than solitary confinement.

Men who could withstand electric shock, beatings and other forms of coercion that sane people can’t even comprehend, would cry like babies after only a few weeks of solitary.

The Times article continues:

A lawsuit filed last week by The New York Civil Liberties Union, however, suggests that the system is still misusing punitive isolation, not just for some of the mentally ill, but for a broad range of the system’s 55,000 inmates.

Most prison systems use isolation selectively, singling out violent people who present a danger to guards and other inmates. The lawsuit asserts that New York uses isolation as routine punishment for minor, nonviolent offenses — more than any other system in the country.

Regardless of how horrific a form of punishment this is, I chose this article because the only way to get Americans to stop doing something bad, is to hand them the bill. This lawsuit does just that.

The plaintiff in the suit, Leroy Peoples, is a 30-year-old with a history of mental illness who was twice sentenced to solitary confinement. In 2005, he was sentenced to six months for “unauthorized possession of nutritional supplements” that were available for sale in the prison commissary. In 2009, he was sentenced to three years in isolation for having unauthorized legal materials.

According to court documents, between 2007 and 2011, the state imposed 70,000 isolation sentences for offenses like having an “untidy cell or person,” or for “littering,” “unfastened long hair” or an “unreported illness.” On any given day, about 4,300 of the system’s inmates are locked down for 23 hours a day in tiny concrete cells, many of them destined to remain there for years. As additional punishment, prison officials can deny food, exercise, bedding or showers.

The suit charges that New York’s system is arbitrary and, therefore, unconstitutional. It also suggests that African-American inmates are more often banished to isolation, and for longer periods of time, than inmates from other racial groups. However the court decides this case, it seems clear that New York’s isolation policy is inhumane and counterproductive, requiring clearer guidelines from the Legislature as to when isolation can and cannot be used.

See the original article here:

The notorious "Block 15" in the 1950...
The notorious “Block 15” in the 1950s. Built before the war as a military prison, it became the camp’s strict solitary confinement building. Cramped conditions, absence of basic sanitation, isolation from the outside world and the guards’ brutality affected the inmates’ health and sanity. (Greek) Haidari Municipality: Block 15 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

3 thoughts on “The Cost of Solitary Confinement – From NY Times

  1. Hey there! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to
    give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading your posts.

    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same topics?
    Thanks a lot!


Agree? Disagree? Please speak up.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s