Nightline is surprising me tonight. It’s a special expose on solitary confinement and how it’s torture to inmates who have to endure it. Even some of the guards aren’t sure why jails still offer solitary confinement as a punishment. Each and every policymaker in states and in Washington needs to watch this expose before creating more laws about putting more people in solitary confinement as punishment for minor and major offenses.
ABC News has more about their reporter Dan Harris’s 48-hour stay in solitary confinement, in his own words:
I honestly thought it would be much easier. Forty-eight hours without emails, phone calls or work: It sounded vaguely appealing, even.
However, it turned out to be two of the worst days of my life.
Even though the downtown Denver County Jail is one of the newest, cleanest facilities in America, being locked up in solitary confinement is extraordinarily uncomfortable.
The worst part is the screaming. The sounds of my fellow inmates losing their minds was incredibly unsettling.
Then, there’s the cold, the barely edible food, the fact that the lights never go out for security reasons, the total lack of privacy and – worst of all – the sheer boredom. I spent my time pacing, doing push-ups and reading tattered detective novels from the tiny jail library.
If 48 hours was difficult for me, I can’t imagine how it is for the estimated 80,000 men and women involuntarily locked up in solitary every day in America.
We can all agree that people who commit crimes need to be punished, but critics say solitary is “legalized torture” that makes inmates more likely to reoffend and can also cost three times as much as regular inmate housing.
The issue has become increasingly controversial – the subject of congressional hearings, United Nations reports and inmate hunger strikes. Corrections officials argue that, despite its drawbacks, solitary confinement is a necessary tool to control a dangerous population.
To get a sense of what it’s really like, I made myself an inmate for two days. You can see the results tonight on “Nightline.”
A special thanks to the American Friends Service Committee for special footage of solitary confinement.
I believe wholeheartedly that solitary confinement is torture after seeing this shocking expose. The sanity of each and every person changes forever after being solitary confined.
There needs to be legislative changes with which crimes should be punished by solitary confinement, or if crimes should be punished with solitary confinement at all. Regardless, it is undeniable that solitary confinement leaves a lasting impact on locked-up inmates, prison guards, and even us Americans whose taxpayer money pays for inmates to be solitary confined.
A very powerful episode of Nightline indeed.