Thoughts on solitary confinement…

Dear readers,

If you didn’t see my last blog post, you can click here to get some more information on prison systems in North Carolina and what it means to me.  Today I want to talk about solitary confinement.  About 14% of North Carolina’s 38,000 inmates are housed in solitary confinement.  Solitary confinement has been a widespread issue since the 1980’s when states started building supermaxium-security prisons.  This method of punishment locks an inmate in a 6 feet by 8 feet single-cell for 23 hours a day for an unspecified amount of time.  After the death of inmate Michael Anthony Kerr, who died of dehydration while being housed in solitary confinement for over 30 days, several civil rights groups have stepped in and asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate North Carolina’s prison systems solitary confinement methods.  In addition to this, President Barack Obama has addressed the issue of solitary confinement and has requested it be reviewed nationally.  In his speech he states:

“Do we really think it makes sense to lock so many people alone in tiny cells for 23 hours a day for months, sometime for years at a time?  That is not going to make us safer. It’s not going to make us stronger.  If those individuals are ultimately released, how are they ever going to adapt? It’s not smart.”

Psychiatrist Dr. Terry Kupers spoke out on the issue stating that solitary confinement exacerbates mental illness and that even stable inmates begin to experience psychiatric symptoms like self harm, anxiety, depression, and compulsive actions among several other symptoms.  Other critics of solitary confinement agree and further this argument by stating that solitary confinement is equivalent to inhumane torture.

What are your thoughts on solitary confinement?  How do you feel about the 2.5 million dollar settlement given to the family of the late Michael Kerr?  Leave your comments below and let me know what you think!


8 thoughts on “Thoughts on solitary confinement…”

  1. I saw this video on Facebook which you might think is interesting. Like you mentioned in class, not all those who are serving time in jail deserve the sentence they were given or are even guilty of a crime. What the Gloucester Police Department in Massachusetts is doing is stepping in before these types of people are ultimately incarcerated. The video shows a touching story of Nathan, who had an addiction and turned himself in to the police department to get help. As Nathan said, “I thought for sure I was going to get arrested for a crime I didn’t even commit”. This is a perfect example of someone who could have spent a great amount of time behind bars as his mental state deteriorated, instead of being in rehab to solve his problems. I think it’s awesome that, instead of arresting for possession, the Gloucester PD looked at the bigger issue of addiction and how they could work to combat it.


    1. Thank you so much for sharing this video with me! I focused so much on the negative aspects of prison systems that I almost forgot to consider the positive. This video definitely highlights that there are police departments that genuinely want to help people who are struggling before its too late and they end up in prison. I just wish that this was seen in all prison systems and that prisoners were given the proper treatment for their issues like addiction and other disabilities instead of being punished with solitary confinement. Realistically solitary confinement only increases the severity of their condition. I think rehab is a great alternative for those convicted of (some) drug related charges.


  2. I think that this post does a good job setting the stage and laying out what your topic is. I like the example of Kerr in that it makes strong reference to why solitary confinement may be detrimental to prisoners and society as a whole. Additionally, the implementation of Obama and a psychiatrist go well after the example of Kerr to use authority and expert opinion.

    I personally am not a fan of solitary confinement as I believe that it does not rehabilitate the prisoner, but instead makes s/he worse off. Moreover, if our society turns to asking why and what were the causes for the prisoner’s crime, I think that civilians will be less at risk from criminals upon release into public life. I am curious if this has been internally investigated, if not are there any reasons why it hasn’t?


    1. Thank you I’m glad you enjoyed my post! I think it’s important for individuals to be aware of what is really going on within our prison systems. In my opinion, the first step to creating awareness of an issue like this is education. I really believe that we need to educate our members of society on what is happening because it has been an overlooked topic for too long now. In addition to that, I agree with your statement that solitary confinement does not rehabilitate the prisoners and you’re right to state that it does make their condition worse. There’s psychiatric proof like I discussed in my post. And to respond to your question, from the knowledge I have gained from researching this topic there has been several requests to thoroughly investigate solitary confinement and to get it reformed. Unfortunately I am not exactly sure how far officials have taken this. I have tried to research it more extensively but have come to dead ends. In my personal opinion I think government officials do not want the public to be THAT aware of the conditions within the prison systems (which answers why there is less information being published about what prison systems are doing wrong) because it would unravel years of corruption and mistreatment and would turn into a more expensive issue than they are willing to pay for.


  3. Dear Blogger,

    First of all- I enjoyed reading your post and look forward to seeing more about solitary confinements and the overall treatments of prison inmates within North Carolina over the upcoming weeks. I have to say that this is a very interesting but heartbreaking situation to think about, especially when it is involving several deaths of inmates at the hands of the guards meant to protect them. I was certainly unaware of this type of mistreatment and abuse within the United States (to this extent) and throughout North Carolina.

    I though that adding the statement made by President Obama really helped connect your reader to the seriousness that we are facing with this issue and the need to address it immediately. I agree with Obama and believe we need to look at other ways to deal with inmates who may be acting out in healthier, more constructive ways- rather than locking them into tiny concrete cells for 23 hours a day.

    Overall, this was a fabulous post! It was well structured and flowed with purpose and engaged the reader 100%. Keep up the great work!!


    1. Thank you! I am so glad my readers are as interested in this topic as I am. I completely agree with your statement that it is heartbreaking situation. You are completely right; inmates should not fear the prison guards that are meant to protect them. Unfortunately though, they do and in many situations, cases aren’t reported that involve prison guard brutality and mistreatment because they fear the retaliation that could stem from reporting the abuse. I recommend you check out my most recent post, I focused entirely on prison guard brutality as an issue not only in North Carolina but nationally too. My main goal is to keep my readers interested and informed of the cruelty that is happening within these prison systems. It has been kept “hush hush” for too long now and I think we, as a society, deserve to know what is happening to our brothers, sisters, friends, cousins, etc.


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