7 Inmates And Former Inmates Reveal What Solitary Confinement Is Like

October 10, 2018 | No Comments » | Topics: TRUTH

1. You sit in a room with nothing to do all day. 23 hours lockdown with 1 hour allowed outside in a cage alone, or you can shower, or use the phone. Some guards are really lazy and offer inmates 2 lunch or dinner trays instead of letting people out and most inmates in the solitary unit agree to the deal because they are STARVING. Normally in a normal general pop unit you eat other food along with meals because the portions are smaller than a Happy Meal. So its a sudden shock when you eat little to no food. The head of the kitchen told me that all three meals every inmate eats a day costs the Facility $0.91 TOTAL per inmate.

Some people have books if they aren’t insane and it keeps the unit quiet. But most people are banging on the doors or just plain screaming for hours. You can hear other cells in the vents and people going crazy (especially during Christmas time).

Some guys go insane. I’ve seen people purposely clog toilets to get staff in riot gear to come to their cell. But they spend about 6-10 hours covering their entire floor with soap very heavily. When the riot team tries to come in they will start throwing their feces at them and cups of pee. The floor is slippery and the riot team eats shit as they try to enter the cell with the guy in the back of the cell… They continuously spray pepper spray all over the cell which then goes all in the unit and it other cells and its really annoying.

Some guys go nuts the other way and are on suicide watch and the jail needs to pay someone to sit outside their door all day.

Its a dark dark place.


2. Absolute hell. I was in solitary for 3 days as a 15 year old, which is nothing in a world where adult prisoners can spend a month or more in there. No clothes, no books, a steel bed and the room was kept very very cold. I was allowed a bible for 1 hour a day. The rest of my time was spent staring at the wall.


3. State juvie early 90s. 5′ x 5′ cell with a drain in the center. Shit stains, nut stains, reeks of piss. They strip you down to the community boxers and leave you in there. Need to go to the bathroom see the drain. Gotta poop waffle stomp it. It’s also cold (winter) so you freeze your ass off w. nothing to do for hours. Oh you got sick because you were too cold? Here is a U-haul blanket and now you are on dead time (time doesn’t count until you get better). Food? Chicken noodle water in a cup. Not soup because if you get 3 noodles in it you got lucky, never saw any chicken bits.

Your first 15 hours in there you don’t want to touch anything. After that you just say fuckit because you can’t stand anymore so sit in someone else’s crap.

Mt Meigs (D&E block A then B, later Thagard hall). I will say I caused a shitstorm while I was there and got a full release at 5 months on a 12 month sentence to a external drug rehab (when I never did drugs lol).


4. I spent 8 months in solitary confinement when I had just turned 18, I had done nothing wrong except turn 18 in a juvenile facility. Everything was white, white walls, white painted window, thin white blanket against the artifical cold. White light on every hour of the day and night was just a memory. I was allowed one magazine a day, and I soon ran through their small stack of magazines. There was nothing, except some scant food pushed through the door sometimes only twice a day. Rotten milk that made me sick. No visitors. 3 minute phone call once a week if I was lucky. I cried when I woke up, praying to God that he would take me at night, I never believed before. I tried to kill myself by trying my bra around my neck but I ripped it off instictually as I was losing consciousness and I wept. I did not know when it would end and one day it just did.


5. I was locked up for three days. Because of the nature of my arrest, I was put into protective custody. It was basically a small enclosure with a toilet, sink and steel bench. Lights are on 24/7. I was across from another cell with eight guys so they knew I was in there for something bad. They tried to get my attention. I was fed twice a day. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the morning and a burrito at night. I could not shower, brush my teeth or even make a phone call. No blankets, pillows or toilet paper. The cell reeks of urine and vomit. The biggest mind fuck was not knowing how much time had passed. You did not know what day it was or if it were day or night. The anxiety is unbearable. You start to think of ways to get out, dead or alive. The scariest thing is the belief that someone will forget about you and you will starve to death or if another Katrina happened and the guards will leave you to die. The guards are pretty sadistic. I understand that they have to be tough, but they were not professional. I was eventually bailed out and my legal case got resolved.


6. Whatever you think hell is, that’s what solitary confinement is—365 days a year, 24 hours a day. It’s a system that seems designed to break a man’s will to live.

I spent 18 and a half years in prison, 12 on death row, for a crime I did not commit. Sixteen of those years were in solitary confinement. I was exonerated and released in 2010.

Because I was innocent, I never let myself feel like a death-row inmate. I tried to think of my years in solitary confinement as a kind of boarding school to prepare me to come out and be a messenger for justice today. But by no means was it easy.

The way they treated me was dehumanizing. It was like I was an animal. I had 60 square feet, with four walls that seemed to close in on me every day. I could sometimes hear guys screaming.

The routine was always the same: I would get up in the morning at 3 a.m. for breakfast, which could be a cold egg, a biscuit, and an expired pint of milk. Around 5:30 a.m. the guards would come, make me strip, handcuff me, and lead me 30 steps to a larger room for an hour of rec time by myself. Then they would make me strip, handcuff me again, and take me to the showers.

Lunch started at around 9 a.m. It was food you wouldn’t feed to your dog, even if he tore up your best pair of shoes. Then I’d write letters and work on my case. At about 3 p.m. I’d get my final meal—the last food I’d have until the next morning. As the death-row guards would say, they aren’t there to feed you; they’re there to keep you alive until they kill you.

Solitary confinement plays tricks on your mind. You’re bound by four walls, you’re cut off from society, and you’re left with just your own thoughts. Sometimes you start to feel like, if they treat me like this, I’m going to act like this. And then you risk becoming the kind of person that it seems like they’re trying to tell society that you are.

Human contact was what I missed most—something that told me that I was still loved, and that I was still able to love. We don’t realize how important human contact is. When we give hugs and shake hands, it’s because we need to. I don’t know how to explain the emptiness it leaves when you are not allowed human contact anymore. It felt like they were starving me to death.


7. I am the nucleus of a cube made of concrete. Six cement walls, all twins. Keep me surrounded. Day in and day out. A tomb of solitary confinement. All days perpetual motion; never ending! My eyes a hollow husk of themselves. Deprived of sunlight, they’ve become black circles, shadows. Two trophies of pain. I see all of this in the mirror, that it is not a mirror. A piece of stainless steel screwed into the wall. Pretending to be a mirror. Just like I pretend this tomb of mine is not depressing. I mask my depression with anger and frustration. Fresh air and sunlight, once taken for granted. Now a delicious treat to be craved. Some of my few carrots in a world of sticks. Alone no matter how many people love you, I turn my mind into an army, so it is strong enough to fight these walls. I must not surrender. No matter how much these walls try to close in on me. This cell feeds on my heartbeat. Stealing my life. Absorbing my essence. A dungeon within a dungeon, supermax! Rows of concrete tombs designed to break men; men breakers. I’ve heard these walls break men with my own ears. I cannot see them break. These concrete cubes with men inside them; are designed to prevent almost all human interaction. Still you can hear a man’s mind topple and fall. Gradually transforming from sane, to not sane. I must reinforce my mind on a daily basis. Call upon my reservoir of strength. My prison within a prison. I exercise my body and mind, so I don’t break physically or mentally. Correctional officers trying to sneak through each of our dungeons at 5:30am. In the hopes to catch us asleep, so they can say we refused our only chance at recreation for the day. One hour inside a dog cage for humans. The guards love to rob us of fresh air for our lungs. The chance to greet the sun for the day. We cannot even exercise in these cages because the ground is littered with bird droppings. The cages never cleaned, psychological warfare. Being marched from one cell to this cage by two officers. Hands cuffed behind our back with a dog leash attached to the cuffs, so they can make us heel like dogs, I don’t know sleep. This cell deprives me of slumber. My bed is forged from concrete. A concrete slab. My mattress is as thin as a yoga mat. I toss and turn all night long. Dreams a long lost memory. Unless it’s a day dream of my hopes and wishes. I travel in my mind. My only vacation from this madness. Only to be snatched from my reverie by the smell of feces. The smell is terrible. Gut retching! Worse than any primate exhibit, in any zoo! A broken mind playing in excrement like it’s a new toy. I want to feel sorry for those broken minds, but sorry is a feeling. Feelings are weakness. I must be strong. Otherwise become a broken mind myself. My dignity I cherish like a prized possession. It’s all I have left. That and my integrity. They are my brothers and sisters. Always with me. Principles to grasp and hold on to. A day turns into a week. Then a year, five years. My solitary confinement begins to feel immortal. This concrete wall chips away at me. I patch my armor just to find more cracks and dents. This place is a zoo for humans. Other humans count on us, feed us, observe us. The broken mind in cell six hasn’t taken a shower or left his cage in six months. He smells like refuse.

I am permitted one twenty-minute phone call per week. It’s like a TV program where someone is arrested. All they keep asking “Can I have my one phone call?” Almost all contact with civilization is lost, because my one phone call per week belongs to my dear mother. In my tomb I walk from bed to cell, back and forth. A dead man walking. It’s meal time in the dungeon, we are served our meals in disposable trays. Usually the food is already cold by the time they are placed in our food slots. The trays don’t have enough slots for a balanced meal, so our dessert or bread is usually floating in our soup. If you’re not fortunate enough to have people that love you, and send you money to purchase food and other much needed items from commissary. You will starve and suffer in ways unfathomable. Speaking of commissary. It’s delivered weekly and is compared to Christmas. The only thing to look forward to each week, just like one weekly phone call. As we hang up, already we are waiting for next week’s call. As soon as commissary departs, not a day goes by before we’re waiting on it to return. This is what my life has come to.



Related Viewing: FRONTLINE – Solitary Nation

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