The Solitary Confinement in Prisons Essay Example
How can solitary confinement be so great for some people, but the worst thing to others? Solitary confinement has been around for a few centuries and is still in use today. It is used for highly supervised prisoners. This is the worst part to be in at a prison if you have been put into custody. The history of different solitary confinements always depends on the type of population the police have to deal with. These prisoners always have a major reasoning to be put into solitary. There are many effects that segregation has on inmates.Do prisons overuse solitary confinement? What effects does solitary confinement have on prisoners? How do prisoners cope with solitary? What are officers’ personal opinions and thoughts about solitary confinement?
What is solitary confinement? Solitary confinement is where prisoners are locked in a cell by themselves for 23 hours. During each day, all prisoners are highly supervised. Solitary confinement, also known as ‘seg’, is specifically used for inmates who are extremely dangerous to other inmates or officers.Solitary confinement spreads as a results as a result of severe institutional strains in incarceration (Schlanger & Fetting 1). Segregation is also used for prisoners who have acted upon being a risk to the prison. The purpose of segregation is to keep other inmates and staff protected from the endangerment of unstable prisoners. Solitary confinement only has a cot, toilet, sink, and desk in each cell. Prisoners are not permitted to have anything that can harm them, or officers who assist them.
The history of Solitary Confinement began in late 1829. The first place in the United States was at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. The prison or church locked a person in a ground cage with nothing but food. Inmates at Cherry Hill Prison, Philadelphia, were expected to put all feelings and thoughts to the side to give their full attention to God in the 1820’s (Smith 1-88). They were locked up to allow evil to escape them. “ In 1936, the Congress furthermore advised that solitary confinement should not be used in connection with sentences of long duration. Solitary confinement before a trial was not discussed.”(Smith 1-88). Studies from 1951 show that isolated prisoners are unable to think clearly and behave similar to Harry Harlow’s monkeys (Breslow 1). In 1971, solitary confinement was banned from the whole United States. By October of 1983, segregation was in process again. The amount of prisoners in solitary confinement has grown from 1983 until 2012. From 2012-late 2016, prisons have dropped the numbers of prisoners in solitary confinement by 80 percent.
There is many different types of populations of solitary prisoners. There is about 80,000 prisoners that are in solitary confinement.These cells contain prisoners like: gang leaders, murderers, assaulters, reoccuring prisoners, riots, prisoners who show aggression to other inmates, and inmates who join gangs and cults. Many of the prisoners have joined the KKK or are currently in the KKK. Many citizens feel as if solitary confinement is being overused in many different ways. They also feel like the way that solitary confinement is used is not appropriate to a certain extent. Within these populations, the majority of those prisoners self-harm for attention. From 2012 until 2016, the population of prisoners self-harming dropped by 80 percent. Solitary confinement is used for the more dangerous prisoners in general population. The more dangerous people of the prison have to be watched at all times.
These dangerous prisoners always have major reasons for solitary. The two main reasons for solitary are assaults and endangerment to others. Prisoners mainly assault other inmates in general population. Occasionally, people will see officers being assaulted by inmates. The different ways inmates could be an endangerment to others are the kind of history they have, or for different psychological reasons. Inmates can become an extreme endangerment if they have a dangerous history with no types of recovery from it. Some prisoners could also have different types of mental illnesses that can cause lack of recovery; this can also cause a more dangerous situation with inmates. Prisons are not permitted to place prisoners who have serious medical issues in solitary for any reason unless for emergency purposes (Schlanger and Fetting 1). “From ⅕ to ⅔ prisoners in segregation are believed to have some form of mental illness. The Justice Department guidelines have recognized that the mentally ill may not be fit for solitary” (Breslow 1).
Solitary confinement has different effects on prisoners; it does different things to prisoners. Overall, the effects of segregation is similar throughout the unit. Inmates do many things to receive any kind of attention from other inmates, or the officers. Prisoners attempt to receive attention by flooding cells, food fights, self-harming, going on strike, and disobey officers (Edge and Mucciolo). Their behavior becomes too extravagant without reasoning sometimes. This is very unacceptable behavior for officers to handle. The mental stability that solitary confinement has on prisoners is extremely intense. Inmates are already broken down from being in prison, for being in segregation makes it very hard for prisoners not to break in the brain.
Some prisoners have hallucinations and illusions linked with paranoia. About 85% of inmates experience this (Smith 1-88). Within the first 3 months of solitary confinement, prisoners experience troubles eating and digestion (Corcoran 1). An experiment at Princeton University shows that even people who are voluntarily locking themselves away, they begin to hallucinate (Smith 1-88). Inmates cope with solitary confinement in different ways. The majority of prisoners do not become more dangerous due to solitary; more than half of these prisoners commit suicide. The ones that stay become socially isolated while in the world (Breslow 1).
There is different rehab programs that the prison provides for mentally unstable prisoners. The Challenge Program is to make inmates critically think and find different ways to get to the same solution. Psychology Incarceration is when the inmates are moved from segregation, and they move to a mental institution-like rehab center. There is a Coping Skills group that helps prisoners think about how they feel. This group helps inmates interact with their feelings and other inmates’ feelings and thoughts about anything. Finally, there is an Anger Management course for any segregated prisoner who lashes out too much, or is angry overall. Most of the inmates act the same once they are released. It is very hard for prisoners to adjust.
Some prisoners forget how to behave dow to isolation for so long. This ends up being isolated for too long, causes too much anxiety (Breslow 1). They find some kind of way to get back into solitary; in retaliation to what they are used to. Another action inmates take is to isolate themselves, or commit suicide. Many inmates that are released from solitary tend to adjust the same way to freedom. Prisoners that are released from solitary to the world tend to become paranoid; so they isolate themselves, or kill another person to be put back into Segregation. Almost all of these prisoners experience severe anxiety in reaction to being in solitary too long (Edge and Mucciolo) .
Prisons tend to overuse solitary confinement. There was a point in time when a single prison had over 150 people in solitary confinement. Segregation has many effects socially, physically, and mentally on prisoners. The effects differ among the group of prisoners. Prisoners cope with solitary confinement in different ways. Some self-harm, or become disobedient. Some prisoners attempt suicide. Many prisoners have rehabilitation classes they attend to keep them mentally ‘stable’. Officers feel as if solitary confinement is being overused. Solitary confinement has been around for centuries with an accumulated count of over 80,000 prisoners. There is many different reasons why inmates are put into segregation. The effects of solitary confinement differ between the inmates. Solitary confinement is a very opinionated topic among the United States and who is being asked about it.