Arguing Cause Claire

Wanted: Solitary Confinement Reform

“I have served a sentence worse than death” William Blake confessed in his essay (Blake). William Blake has been in solitary confinement for 26 years. His personal account demonstrates how solitary confinement has become something out of a horror movie. Imagine being confined to a cell no bigger than a small bathroom. The only way to pass the time is to pace the cell, look out the small window or listen to the mad ranting’s coming from the inmate in the cell over. The only human contact someone in solitary confinement has is when the correctional officer walks by to check on them or to give them food. Most people who end up in solitary confinement got there because they went against jail or prison rules or they are there for their own protection. A child rapist will make his home there unless he wants to face the general population and hope for the best.

Solitary confinement started back in 1829. It was influenced by the Quaker’s belief that if a person were confined to a small cell with only a bible in their possession, they would spend the time praying and repenting (Sullivan). The opposite happened. Inmates deprived of simple human contact went insane, committed suicide and some could no longer function in society. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Freeman Miller finds, "A considerable number of the prisoners fell, after even a short confinement, into a semi-fatuous condition, from which it was next to impossible to arouse them, and others became violently insane; others still, committed suicide; while those who stood the ordeal better were not generally reformed, and in most cases did not recover sufficient mental activity to be of any subsequent service to the community." (Sullivan). It has been proven that solitary confinement is not an answer.

  • Is it clear what I mean exactly?

solitary confinement was a old method they tried but it didn't work.

  • Where might the reader be confused? What could be misleading or muddled?

Who are the Quakers?

  • How does the claim(s) in this paragraph relate to my main claim?

Solitary confinement is not an appropriate punishment or rehabilitation technique

  • What support have I used to argue this claim? What links this support to my claim? (for these last two, you can underline the support and make bold the linkage if it is explicitly stated. If the linkage is unstated, write it out in this quote box.)

Quote from a U.S Supreme Court Justice member He states that solitary harmed individuals mental state

Solitary confinement is not a suitable rehabilitation technique. In some circumstances it is necessary when a dangerous inmate needs to be separated from the general population, but it is inhumane if they are kept confined in such a small space for more than a few days. Locking people away and hoping they will get better it is not a form of rehabilitation. In order to help someone they need to actually get help. It is equivalent to thinking that if you can’t see the problem, the problem will either fix itself or go away. “I’ve experienced times so difficult and felt boredom and loneliness to such a degree that it seemed to be a physical thing inside so thick it felt like it was choking me, trying to squeeze the sanity from my mind, the spirit from my soul, and the life from my body” wrote William Blake (Blake).

  • Is it clear what I mean exactly?

Yes. Something needs to be done to help those confined in solitary confinement.

  • Where might the reader be confused? What could be misleading or muddled?

How can people help them?

  • How does the claim(s) in this paragraph relate to my main claim?

Examines what should be done to help those in solitary confinement (briefly)

  • What support have I used to argue this claim? What links this support to my claim? (for these last two, you can underline the support and make bold the linkage if it is explicitly stated. If the linkage is unstated, write it out in this quote box.)

Quote from William Blake's essay about his experience in solitary.

Solitary confinement involves confining a person to a cell usually no bigger than a small bathroom, approximately 6 x 9 or 8 x 10 feet. The door is either solid metal with a small slot for the tray of food to pass through, or the door is barred like most normal jail cells. An inmate is confined to their cell for between 22 and 24 hours depending on where they are. Along with having restricted social contact, inmates also lose out on any, "…opportunity to work or attend prison programming, and sometimes banned from having televisions, radios, art supplies, and even reading materials in their cells" (Rodriguez).

  • Is it clear what I mean exactly?

Yes. Describes the conditions, though briefly, inside a segregation cell.

  • Where might the reader be confused? What could be misleading or muddled?

I don't see how any of that could be confusing.

  • How does the claim(s) in this paragraph relate to my main claim?

Conditions in a solitary confinement cell

  • What support have I used to argue this claim? What links this support to my claim? (for these last two, you can underline the support and make bold the linkage if it is explicitly stated. If the linkage is unstated, write it out in this quote box.)

Quote from an article regarding what inmates miss out on when they are confined.

There are multiple reasons why solitary confinement is not an effective method of rehabilitation. Insufficient mental health care is one of those reasons. A normal person can handle a “time-out” but everyone needs a break. Allow the prisoner/inmate time to socialize either with a counselor or another inmate as long as no danger is evident. If the inmate is dangerous give them a book to read or music to listen to. This will calm them down and help them cope (62). If they are left to stew their negative emotions will only get worse. A method used by the psychologist Doctor Morgan is called "Crisis Intervention" (62.) This method helps keep the prison safe by meeting with an inmate who has been in solitary confinement or segregation for almost 24 hours. Especially if he is becoming increasingly agitated such as threatening the guards or other inmates, or he is showing signs of psychosis or depression due to being isolated (62). Doctor Morgan has noted, "only 6 percent of psychologists work in prisons" (62).

Attending to inmates' basic mental health needs also helps with prison safety, Morgan says. Take a prisoner who has been placed in "lockdown" or segregation for 23 hours a day in maximum security for threatening other inmates or guards. If he begins to show signs of psychosis or depression due to being isolated, Morgan says it's in everyone's best interest to give him "crisis intervention"—involving, for example, a "no-harm" contract in which an inmate and a therapist agree verbally or in writing that the inmate will not harm himself for a designated period, or until at least one therapy session is held. Providing such services can be a challenge, he notes, because of limited resources, an environment that limits social support and the inmates' confinement to a small space (62).

  • Is it clear what I mean exactly?

Yes. It is difficult to provide mental health care to inmates due to various safety reasons concerning the guards, doctor and the inmate himself.

  • Where might the reader be confused? What could be misleading or muddled?

The last sentence before the block quote seems out of place.

  • How does the claim(s) in this paragraph relate to my main claim?

One of the reasons why segregation has failed: lack of mental health care

  • What support have I used to argue this claim? What links this support to my claim? (for these last two, you can underline the support and make bold the linkage if it is explicitly stated. If the linkage is unstated, write it out in this quote box.)

Journal section page 62, quotes from Doctor Morgan.

Most rules regarding solitary confinement include not allowing any form of entertainment in the cell which include: books, music, television, art supplies and radios. I understand why. Some inmates revolt and flood their cells and throw toilet paper anywhere they can get it. Frontline went inside Maine State Penitentiary and recorded what happens in the segregation unit (Frontline). The video details multiple riots and hunger strikes that take place during the brief time period they were filming. These rules were created because inmates took advantage of the items they were given to pass the time. I understand why they would revoke the allowance of those items in the cells, but I believe they should be given to prisoners that behave. It can be used as an incentive to keep their behavior on the right track.

  • Is it clear what I mean exactly?

Yes. Inmates revolt and consequences happen because of that.

  • Where might the reader be confused? What could be misleading or muddled?

Why should the inmates want to model good behavior? What are they getting out of it? Why do inmates revolt?

  • How does the claim(s) in this paragraph relate to my main claim?

People that are in solitary confinement are "forced" to do bad things because they are looking for things to do.

  • What support have I used to argue this claim? What links this support to my claim? (for these last two, you can underline the support and make bold the linkage if it is explicitly stated. If the linkage is unstated, write it out in this quote box.)

Frontline video link.

One of the main reasons solitary confinement poses such a health risk is due to the conditions within the cell. "…solitary confinement's harsh conditions, including filthy cells that are "scarcely larger than a king-sized bed," [Craig Haney, PhD] said. As a result of the endless monotony and lack of human contact, "for some prisoners … solitary confinement precipitates a descent into madness." Many inmates experience panic attacks, depression and paranoia, and some suffer hallucinations…" (10). Its perfectly reasonable to lock someone away if they pose a threat to someone but, the cell with which they are thrown should be at least remotely decent. Prisons are not places to torture people they are places to legally punish and rehabilitate offenders.

  • Is it clear what I mean exactly?

The mental havoc that being locked away can do to you but not the actual physical characteristics.

  • Where might the reader be confused? What could be misleading or muddled?

What are the physical characteristics of a segregation cell?

  • How does the claim(s) in this paragraph relate to my main claim?

How segregation cells are not physically appealing.

  • What support have I used to argue this claim? What links this support to my claim? (for these last two, you can underline the support and make bold the linkage if it is explicitly stated. If the linkage is unstated, write it out in this quote box.)

Quote from Craig Haney PhD in the journal on page 10

Some may say they are just unruly hooligans and they should be happy with whatever we give them in prison. Well I believe they are still human beings that deserve the benefit of the doubt. Who knows, the person sitting in solitary confinement could be innocent. The Innocence Project created in 1992 has exonerated over three hundred inmates using DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) evidence. The average time spent in prison or jail was an astonishing thirteen years and eighteen of those three hundred were on death row (Project). Treat everyone as equals. Most solitary confinement units are scarcely furnished. It is out of safety but some exceptions should and could be made. If the inmate behaves, and by behaves I mean: appropriate language and attitude toward the guards, no loud noise, be cooperative and don't cause a ruckus that may excite the other inmates. If they can avoid all that they should be given something as an incentive to continue down that path.

  • Is it clear what I mean exactly?

Jumps back and forth. It could be a little clearer.

  • Where might the reader be confused? What could be misleading or muddled?

I don't see how anyone could be confused by this paragraph. Where is the proof that people don't care about people in prison?

  • How does the claim(s) in this paragraph relate to my main claim?

Solitary confinement can be inhumane

  • What support have I used to argue this claim? What links this support to my claim? (for these last two, you can underline the support and make bold the linkage if it is explicitly stated. If the linkage is unstated, write it out in this quote box.)

I don't have any evidence or proof, but I do site the group called the Innocence Project.

Solitary confinement has been proven to cause many problems including: Visual and auditory hallucinations, hypersensitivity to noise and touch, insomnia and paranoia, uncontrollable feelings of rage and fear, distortions of time and perception, increased risk of suicide, and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)(Rodriguez). It has been known, ever since Solitary Confinement was created that it is an inhumane way to hold prisoners and instead of rehabilitating prisoners it makes them worse. Prison is a punishment, but it should also be a form of rehabilitation. Instead of spending the money sending them back and forth money should be spent on making them a decent person, fit to walk among law abiding citizens in society. They can contribute to society instead of slow it down.

  • Is it clear what I mean exactly?

Yes. Solitary confinement is proven to cause multiple mental problems in inmates.

  • Where might the reader be confused? What could be misleading or muddled?

What do some of those terms mean? Where is the source for "ever since S.C was created… makes them worse"?

  • How does the claim(s) in this paragraph relate to my main claim?

The mental problems solitary confinement causes.

  • What support have I used to argue this claim? What links this support to my claim? (for these last two, you can underline the support and make bold the linkage if it is explicitly stated. If the linkage is unstated, write it out in this quote box.)

Symptoms from Rodriquez

I do not believe anyone is unruly enough to deserve a stay in solitary confinement. Sometimes using solitary confinement is a necessary evil but that does not mean we cannot try to fix it. Just change a few things and solitary confinement can become an effective treatment option. Allow prisoners more time to socialize safely and to talk with a counselor, who can help them resolve any issues that hinder them from getting better. The reason solitary confinement is bad is mainly because it isolates the inmate from other people and treats them like something less than a human being. Acknowledge them and show them that the system wants them to get better.

  • Is it clear what I mean exactly?

Kind of. This paragraph is strictly opinion.

  • Where might the reader be confused? What could be misleading or muddled?

Change what things? Be more specific.

  • How does the claim(s) in this paragraph relate to my main claim?

How segregation should be changed.

  • What support have I used to argue this claim? What links this support to my claim? (for these last two, you can underline the support and make bold the linkage if it is explicitly stated. If the linkage is unstated, write it out in this quote box.)

No sources in this paragraph.

It has been proven that solitary confinement is not a good method for rehabilitation. Instead of decreasing recidivism it actually increases the chance of inmates re-offending. “Prisoner recidivism is a serious public safety concern: almost 700,000 prisoners are released from prison every year, and approximately two-thirds of those released are rearrested within three years” (Gordon). If something does not change prisons are going to become more and more crowded. If prisoners can be rehabilitated effectively tax payers do not need to pay more money towards keeping them locked away. Instead that money can go towards schools and different beneficial programs. Stop the problem at the source. Solitary confinement can be an effective method of rehabilitation but it needs to be reformed and kept under check.

Bibliography

  • Blake, William. "Voice from Solitary: A Sentence Worse Than Death." 25 December 2014. Solitary Watch: News from a Nation in Lockdown. Online. 11 February 2015.
  • Crawford, Nicole. "Helping inmates cope with prison life." Monitor on Psychology (2003): 62. Online.
  • Dingfelder, Sadie. "Psychologist testifies on the risks of solitary confinement." Monitor on Psychology (2012): 10. Online.
  • Gordon, Shira E. "Solitary Confinement, Public Safety, and Recidivism." 2014. University of Michigan: Journal of Law Reform. Online Journal. 16 March 2015.
  • Rodriguez, Sal. Solitary Watch: Frequently Asked Questions . 2012. Online. 18 March 2015.
  • Sullivan, Laura. "Timeline: Solitary Confinement in U.S Prisons." 26 July 2006. Online. 23 February 2015.
  • Frontline. Solitary Nation. Dir. Dan Edge. 2014. Online Video.

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