1. When I was a teenager, one of my favorite movies to watch and re-watch was Murder in the First, a Hollywood version of life in solitary confinement on Alcatraz Island. It stars Kevin Bacon as a mostly innocent victim of the penal system. I was entranced by the movie version that tackled and toppled the injustice that was Alcatraz State Penetentiary.
2. Turns out, the man Bacon’s character was based on was a convicted bank robber and murderer, and never spent time in “the hole.”
3. Sometimes prisoners are more like the Henri Young of the movies. Sometimes they’re more like the Henri Young of reality.
4. A plan for rehabilitation for individuals who are a danger to themselves and their community is necessary in a civilized society. From everyday experience we see that being treated with respect and care creates respectful and caring individuals.
5. The United Nations deems that more than 15 days in solitary confinement is, “torture, or cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. There are prisoners in solitary confinement in the United States penal system that have broken no prison rules. Some that have been in solitary for over 20 years. Some that are minors. Some whose only chance of being released is to inform on other prisoners, and risk death. Some who are innocent.
6. No matter the nature of some of the crimes some of these prisoners, they are still human, and to treat them as less. To push them into a back corner of a small circulation weekly rag, where they will not tug on our conscience. To let them suffer alone, without daylight. Without human contact. Is this not also a crime? A collective crime that we, as a society allow by choosing that there is nothing else to be done? Because this kind of confinement robs a person of their light, of that which makes them alive. Does that not make every blind eye a fatal blow?
American hiker Shane Bauer, who was held in Iran for two years wrote an article and filmed a video about conditions at Pelican Bay State Prison in Florida. http://www.shanebauer.net/video/
Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union reports on U.S. teens in solitary confinement. http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/10/10/us-teens-solitary-confinement
Link to various facts about the human and fiscal costs of solitary confinement. http://solitarywatch.com/fact-sheets/