Solitary Confinement

Solitary Confinement

A Story by Chloe Hodges
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A 10th grade english essay

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“I found myself curled up in fetal position rocking myself back and forth and banging my head against the wall. In the absence of sensation, it's hard sometimes to convince yourself that you're really there.” This was quoted by a former prisoner who had once been placed in solitary confinement for an extended period of time. There are countless more stories and truths about the brutality of solitary confinement just like this one. In the United States psychiatric help is not provided to those in prison who severely need it and when it is, it is very limited. A high percentage of those who are bound to solitary confinement suffer from some form of mental illness. Not only does it increase the chance of a mental illness being discovered it also increases the level of severity in one who is already mentally ill. Solitary confinement is highly expensive and is counterproductive. It costs 78,000 dollars for one inmate to be placed and kept in solitary confinement. That is triple the cost to put someone in isolation rather than keep them in a regular prison unit. Those that have been placed in solitary confinement have had a tendency to act violently or have uncontrollable outbursts of irrationality and anger which result in violence putting those around them in danger. There however is a very high possibility one who acts in such a manner suffers from a severe mental disorder. Rather than putting one in solitary confinement to worsen their mental condition I believe we ought to provide those with the sufficient psychiatric help they need. As I stated previously it costs 78,000 dollars to keep one inmate in solitary confinement whereas it cost 125 dollars a day to house a mentally ill inmate with the correct medication and psychiatric help. Which annually totals out to be 45,625 dollars. A financially and healthier way to keep inmates in prison.

Terms in solitary confinement range anywhere from 2 weeks to 40 years. A group of death row prisoners know as the Angola 3 have spent perhaps the Nation's longest terms in solitary confinement. One of the three spent 29 years before being executed. The other two are now on their 40th year. While in solitary confinement there are many negative effects that can occur. Some are physiological such as, insomnia, heart palpitations, tremulousness, deterioration of eyesight, and diaphoresis. All these effects can be potentially dangerous for oneself. In addition to physiological effects there are also psychological ones as well. Many suffer from anxiety which include, panic attacks or fear of impending death. They can suffer from depression with feelings of hopelessness or no feelings at all which is also known as blunting or emotional flatness. A great deal of anger can occur causing irritability and hostility, poor impulse control, even unprovoked anger sometimes manifesting as rage. Many suffer from hallucinations affecting all five senses: Visual, tactile, auditory, olfactory, and gustatory. They may have hallucinations of objects appearing in the cell or hearing voices when no one is actually speaking. They may also have distortions to the senses, feeling like the walls are closing in. In the end it can lead to paranoia or schizophrenia and even self harm and possibly suicide. One former prisoner said “I was totally frustrated... I started smashing up the cell. I refused to eat. I started refusing water. I was totally paranoid. I started sipping my own urine because I thought they were trying to poison me. I resorted to self-injury, was put in a body belt. You become so angry. It's an outlet, you have something to vent it out. Even your own blood is something real.”

Solitary confinement is not only restricted to adults (over the age of 18). There are also many juveniles that have been subjected to solitary confinement and its effects. As a minor, the brain is still developing and socialization is a crucial role in allowing the brain to develop and function properly.  


© 2015 Chloe Hodges



Author's Note

Chloe Hodges
It isn't quite finished yet and I am having some difficulty trying to figure out how to make it sound better, if any of y'all know how this would sound better, feel free to comment with ideas! :)

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Added on April 28, 2015
Last Updated on May 1, 2015