08 October 2015

Solitary Confinement – The Horrors of our ‘Correctional’ System

Even though international governing bodies have condemned the use of solitary confinement since the 1990s, it is still a common practice in many prisons all over the United States. Currently, an estimated total of 80,000 to 100,000 men, women and children are isolated in closed cells for 22-24 hours a day – for periods stretching from days, weeks, months and even years.

Reasons to place a prisoner in solitary confinement are not restricted to serious violations – talking back to a guard or being caught with contraband are often reason enough to be ‘put into lockdown’ or ‘thrown in the shoe’. Did anyone say ‘Milgram’?

There is a reason international governing bodies condemn the practice: because it basically amounts to torture. The physical and psychological effects are horrifying. Mentally sane inmates often come out of solitary confinement with serious psychological disorders, violent behavior and suicidal tendencies. For those who were already suffering from mental illness, being confined to isolation only exacerbates their conditions.

Is this the purpose of our prison system? To break people, to strip them of their sanity or push them further into misery? Does that benefit the prisoners? Does it benefit society when a prisoner has served his sentence and has to re-enter society as a less functional being than he was before incarceration? No matter the crime they have committed – if we sanction the use of torture – are we not criminals all the same?

We make a big fuss over the CIA’s torturing practices, but don’t realize torture is happening on a daily basis to thousands of people in our so called ‘correctional facilities’ and ‘judicial system’.

The Living Income Guaranteed Proposal is based on the principle that all should be able to live a life of dignity. All… that includes prisoners. When we treat people like worthless pieces of s*** - what is going to happen? Is it going to heal them? Will they find peace? Will they repent for past transgressions? Or will it make them into that which we treat them as?

In other words – if we want to be able to continue calling prisons ‘correctional facilities’ – we better reinvent them and do an entire overhaul of the prison system. Archaic ideas of justice need to be thrown out the window and central should stand the fostering of understanding and the correction of harmful behaviors. If not – let’s be frank and call them ‘torture facilities’ – but how can we ever hope to live with any shred of dignity if we stand for that?

Join the discussion on Living Income Guaranteed – take the world in your hands and ask yourself: What needs to happen for all to live a life of dignity? What needs to change? Changing what is here starts with formulating solutions. Do you have any ideas? Let’s hear it!


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