March 22, 2023

Solitary Confinement in Texas

by Charles Thompson (author's profile)



A brief history of solitary confinement dates back at least three centuries to early prisons in Europe & USA were attracted to it for developing the penal system.

The USA developed it to a whole new extreme in the 1960s. Its growth as a dominant tool to bring gangs under control, as well as advanced punishment in the 19th century. Little did they know what they were indeed doing to the human psyche.

Not until recently have the courts began to adopt the 'evolving standards of decency' used by most international courts today. Its big question is to weigh punishment to the crime.

For instance, the practice of solitary confinement in Europe is set at a maximum of 15 days! This reduction came in the end of a death penalty era.

Anything over 15 days is considered a violation of basic human rights for over a century. As Europe ended its use of the death penalty, it grew as an advanced society.

In recent decades, the models set forth in Finland broke the molds of the past. Rehabilitation, counseling, education, skills for a various number of trades, jobs are offered. They revamped the whole system. Turning the corner into the model for the lowers crime rate in Europe. After winning the unruly title as the worst in the late 1800s and into the 1900s.

Conversely USA had a different path to pursue. Its practices became the norm for all prison systems in the growing country. Federal was the first to end use of solitary. Several states followed suite in the past decade.

The United Nations review & reports, studies recommended no more than 15 days to the members of the world. Its been ignored by these United States for decades. We are quick to adopt the lingo of evolving standards of decency but slow to apply it.

Even the American Court of Human Rights determined "prolonged solitary isolation is CRUEL & unusual punishment damaging the human psyche, moral integrity, as it violates basic human rights."

The writing is on the wall, Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Its practice of housing Texas death row in solitary confinement is coming to an end after 23 years of slow cruel torture.

It is a fact that there is no monetary value you can put on your mental health, your psyche, your well-being. We the people have rights given to us by the US constitution. The right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Rather that's happy in prison or free, evolving standards of decency demand no less.


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