March 12, 2013

Solitary Confinement

From Dogshadow /Allnations by L. Samuel Capers


REPLY ID "SolitaryPanel"

There is legitimate proof that being locked away in solitary confinement can mess up individuals' minds, especially during long-term stints. I have been doing time since I was 18 years old, landed in the Department of Corrections in 1994, and actually have been victimised under the hand of cruel and oppressive conditions. One thing that is for sue, their attempts to break one down mentally is all too real. During my time incarcerated, on and off, mentally has the solitary terms created a type of time lapses. I would ask an officer or nurse what day it was, and then find that several days went by without me knowing. Where do those days go?

Now, there are several studies which focus on the effects of long-term solitary confinement. Sensory deprivation entwines not only the mind, but body and spirit in a web of despair. Not only that, but many institutions use other types of mental torture on the captives. It is not only being locked in a cell for days and ever years on in, but it is how the cells are actually built. The only outside view one will have is another blank brick wall they see through a dingy, dirty window. Then the color of the place also plays a big part. Research was done, (I cannot remember where I read it), that proved certain colors can manipulate our moods. For example, I once did time in a high-security unit of a county detention facility where everything was painted dark gray and a darker shades of a supposedly pleasant sky blue. The effects were devastating. Suicides were regular and violence was out of control. It was as if the cops wanted us to kill ourselves as well as one another. Not to mention, their actions and attitudes towards the captive population. Creating more chaos is the main goal for most correctional departments. I, myself, tried to commit suicide on several occasions. This was after my grandmother passed away and it took the jail several days to let me know of her passing. Withholding mail, everyday necessities and even food drives a strong-minded human being into total oblivion.

Though many cats that are incarcerated state that they must do what they need to do to remain strong-minded and hard-spirited, they claim that they are just fine. That everything is just fine. Yet, it is obvious to those that are not incarcerated that there is something clearly wrong with them. They refuse mental health care because they feel that their peers will look down on them, and they will. They feel as if the doctors are working with the cops so no trust there either. In the long run, the after-effects of long-term solitary confinement becomes so evident that the individual cannot even hold a normal conversation with others. They cannot deal with everyday situations, their relationships with family, wife, children, etc., begin to fall apart, ultimately causing them to cut the captive loose, and drift aimlessly in a system so backward and dark, that there is no turning back. This is what we call here, social break down, and is considered victory for the very ones that hold human beings in captivity, denying them a chance to breathe again. It is something that needs to be exposed to the outside, to those who really do not understand what it is like to buried in the midst of a steel and concrete tomb.

I write this from California State Prison, at San Quentin, Death Row. I am allowed on the yard for to 3 1/2 to 4 hours a day, if there is no lock down. Contact with other captives on a segregated yard is all we get. The same people year after year. However, we get lots of sunlight which is more than most captives get in a year. Though I am able to get outside, we are still under heavy guard. An officer in the gun tower has a Mini 14 pointed at the back of our heads from the time we go out 'till the time yard is recalled for the day. That still is punishment for us. There is the Bay Waters of the Pacific Ocean only a few hundred feet from the outer wall of our yards. We are able to smell the ocean, to feel the breeze, but in reality it is torture for us. We look at dirty tan brick walls, to razor wire and guns all day. We breathe frustration, we eat anger, we walk in despair. Waiting to either die of old age, health trouble, a shiv in the heart or a bullet from the gunner's clip. Yes, we have more, but that more we have is clearly polluted. They allow us TV's to watch as life goes by. We are able to purchase foods which are full of preservatives, high in sodium, packed with carbs, and high in sugar. Very little to no fresh fruit, almost no fresh vegetables. We have more, but we have less. Slowly, we waste away in this no-man's land. No sexual contact with out wives, only a short contact visit with one kiss at the beginning, one at the end and hand-holding throughout. I a sense, what we experience here is solitary confinement. Again, we may have more than others, but it comes with a price. And if we do not bow down to the powers that be, here, we lose everything. Placed on a thing called 'property control,' which could last for years. Nothing in the cell allowed except a few books and our tormented thoughts eating a deep, ugly hole into the deepest fibre of our being. We are born of dust and we will return there.

It has been a long road for me here. Doing time has actually brought me to understand what changes need to be done in order for the masses to hear the silent screams of the suffering. One day, I will be out of here, at home with those who love me and whom I love. Until then, I must keep my sanity and make an effort to maintain a sense of patience and long-suffering. At one point, I almost broke. They almost succeeded at breaking my spirit, but it was my loved ones that I had to keep in mind. Those who I need to remain strong for. However, I feel for those who have just given up. This is what they want us to do. (The prison administration). Those that are reading this article, if you are ever called for jury duty, keep in mind that not everybody is guilty. Not everybody is an animal. Many made mistakes due to their life situations, their childhood. Do not place the blame entirely on the individual, alone. Society seems to have the idea that if somebody is accused and convicted of a certain crime, that no matter where evidence points, even away from that individual and towards other, that they are guilty. Their minds are set on the 'lynch mob' mentality because this is what the media, law enforcement and other governmental agencies push. It is for the most part all controversy. Keep in mind that not all that face the courts are worthy of punishment. Most of those convicted to ungodly amounts of prison time will eventually land in solitary confinement. It is a part of prison life. Prison officials make sure of it, even if one is innocent of their accusations. Planting weapons, drugs and falsifying reports is all too common in jails and prisons. Either way you look at it, as long as you are incarcerated for breaking the law, the rehabilitation society speaks of is non-existent. Captives are forced in programs that make us fail, bottom-line.

When I speak on solitary confinement, I speak in terms of being denied basic daily living. To keep one in a cell away from others, away from the freedoms of normal society, then it is confinement. Death Row is constant solitary confinement. Being cut off from all that is good is proof enough that such cruel and unusual punishment dominates behind prison walls.

I ask the 'Panel,' how is it that media, society and mere humans can have the authority to send somebody away when society itself is not perfect? Who are the ones that claim they have the right to have the say-so to strap a man/woman to a table and watch as a needle is inserted into their arms, as their last moments pass before their eyes?? And, why is it that society is not informed as to what solitary confinement can do to somebody especially when they are returned back to society without the proper psychological treatment, which can play a big part in making sure that they no longer return to prison? How can solitary confinement be done away with, and is there anybody in the law that for once side with those who are suffering in these concrete and steel tombs?? I have wondered this for many years. Pelican Bay, Corcoran, Folsom, San Quentin, Tehachipi, Chino, High Desert. These are just a few California prisons that have severe conditions of solitary confinements. What can we do to break this vicious chain of mass oppression and torture?

Thank you for your time...

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Replies (2) Replies feed

Jonson1 Posted 2 years, 10 months ago. ✓ Mailed 2 years, 10 months ago   Favorite
Uce you do the crime you do the time. Prison ain't supposed to be a nice hotel. Been in salinas valley, chino, Wasco. The Hope you have needs to be let go Uce. You say you will be out and with your loved ones.. Sorry to break the news to you but you will only be getting put in a wooden box. Good thing is you can meet your loved ones again, that is is heaven. Read the bible, find Jesus in your life and give your life to Jesus and you will be set free. Much love and respect Uce

Calvinbigdogortiz Posted 1 month ago. ✓ Mailed 2 weeks, 2 days ago   Favorite
Json word has it you been a bitch yes we are family but your a rat and always have been do you remember when my dad richie used to protect yet here you are running your pussy mouth on this letter to my big brother you are disregarded to my family... Eagle is a rat just like you if you ever read this i hope you have the balls to step up to me so we can run a one on one sissy its calvin btw you know who i am bitch

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