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!