“Make No Mistake, Solitary Confinement is Torture” Featuring Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement, Democrat & Chronicle Reports

Posted on March 5, 2018

Erica Bryant: Make no mistake, solitary confinement is torture

Originally Published in Democrat & Chronicle on March 3, 2018
Written by Erica Bryant

In New York, some people have been kept in solitary confinement — spending 22 to 24 hours a day in a tiny cell with no real human contact — for 15 years. The sensory deprivation, lack of interaction and extreme idleness of this punishment is causing intense suffering and psychological damage to thousands of people in New York’s prisons right now. Go spend 15 minutes in the replica solitary confinement cell that the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement has put on display at South Wedge Mission. You will see why the United Nations has called for an absolute prohibition on keeping people in solitary confinement for more than 15 days.  “You’re not sending them in there to rehabilitate them, you are sending them in there to lose their minds.” said Jerome Wright, a CAIC organizer who spent years in solitary confinement while in a New York prison. Even though you can open the door to the replica cell at any time, it is blood-chilling to hear the sounds people make when they can not leave. The soundtrack playing in the replica cell — of banging, wailing and other sounds of misery — is real. It was recorded in secret by a corrections officer who didn’t want to see human beings suffering this way. CAIC is taking the replica cell to locations around the state to educate people about the torture of solitary confinement. The organization hopes to push legislators to pass the Humane Alternatives to Long Term Solitary Confinement Act (A.3080B/S.4784A). This would ban solitary confinement sentences longer than 15 days. It would institute alternative corrective measures with a focus on rehabilitation and fixing the problems that led prisoners to prison in the first place. Such alternatives are successfully in use in prisons around the world. Supporters of the legislation plan to go to Albany on March 13 for a day of advocacy. To learn more visit www.nycaic.org “If we heard they were waterboarding prisoners, wouldn’t we be rising up and saying ‘no more, not in our name?’,” asked Scott Paltrowitz, of CAIC.

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