TruthOut: Opinion: Laurie Jo Reynolds & Stephen F. Eisenson: Tamms is Torture: The Campaign to Close an Illinois SuperMax Prison
I’m not against solitary-confinement by itself because inmates who represent a serious threat to staff as well as other inmates and at times to themselves and because of this must be isolated until they not longer represent that threat to the prison. Prisons can’t function at all when there are inmates who are simply looking to hurt other inmates or have scores to settle and so-forth.
And inmates simply can’t rehabilitate themselves under those conditions especially if they have out of control tempers. But isolation by itself even 20-24 hours a day does not rehabilitate inmates so they can function in general population. Especially if you make it torture for them with nothing to do all day, but to look at walls and build up anger and frustration about being in there without enough food to eat and so-forth without even having any reading material or being able to write letters.
Isolated inmates with just their toilet, basic supplies like toothpaste and that sorta of thing, but nothing constructive for them to do with their time. An environment in a bare cell like that is torture. Solitary-confinement should be just like any other unit in prison. A place where inmates go for rehabilitation and to get better. Not be tortured and to get worst and you do that through not isolating anger-management issue inmates let’s say in 23-24 hour a day bare cells. But you put them in a cell where they can have constructive things that they can do to keep themselves busy.
Inmates should have things like reading and writing materials, music, visits even so their families can see the condition of their relatives in prison and most importantly professional help doctors that can help them get their behavioral issues under control so they can leave isolation. And not be stuck there for years or decades like for some inmates and where isolation is a place like a penalty box to use a hockey analogy where inmates go when they commit a penalty, but then they come back. And if these things to do not work for inmates, then maybe the inmate has some type of mental condition. And prison is not the right place for them.
Isolation units by themselves are not a bad idea. I’m not one of these Neo-Leftists that emerged from the 1960s and 70s whose anti-authority. I’m a Liberal who lives in the real world and understands that responsible authority is a necessary thing for everyone to be able to live in freedom. But when isolation cells become torture, then you are just making the situation worst for the inmate, the staff and the prison which is something that needs to be fixed.