Solitary Confinement

Topics: Mental disorder, Prison, Supermax Pages: 11 (3661 words) Published: May 14, 2012

This paper touches base with the reality that it solitary confinement and everything that goes along with that punishment. These supermax prisons are often overlooked by the everyday citizen; this leaves the inmates serving time in one of these facilities feeling isolated, not only in spirit but in the physical as well. It is the research of a few scientists, but more actual POW victims that will be able to shed some light on what really goes on in the depths of the human mind. It will also spend some time looking at what are some of the possible mental outcomes of these inmates, and will see if these problems are even relevant and if they are, are they permanent? The main objective of this paper is to ask the question “Is solitary confinement a constitutional and humane punishment?”

Keywords: Sanity, supermax, mental health, constitutional, prisons, mental trauma,

Check your sanity at the door.

Arguably, the majority of Americans can agree on the idea that America is one of the most politically correct countries in the world. No other country in the world spends more time and more money on ensuring that its people are happy with every little minute detail that they could construe as rude or insensitive. Not even countries like Australia, who’s Prime Minister appeared on national television told his countryman that in Australia the language that all road signs and television channels will be English; and if anyone had a problem with that then they could excuse themselves from the country. For all of America’s interest in public affairs one major problem has seemed to slip through the cracks. Whether it’s because people don’t know or whether people just don’t care, no one seems to be talking about solitary confinement.

The truth is many Americans, if asked about solitary confinement, normally come back with a comment like, “Oh, well they probably deserve it anyway.” Or “It’s their fault they shouldn’t have been so stupid.” Granted, the majority of the people that are now locked away in solitary have done something that has gained them full access to an 8X10’ cell. However, the issue comes to rest with the idea that punishments like solitary confinement actually causes more harm than good; and the adverse effects of such severe punishments can have a lasting and damaging effect on the people subject to them. The real question is, “is solitary confinement a constitutional and humane way to deal with people?”

Solitary confinement goes against everything that it means to be a human. “Human beings are social creatures”[1] being social does not mean simply enjoying talking to one another, or occasionally saying hi to someone, but it involves something deeper, perhaps some type of developmental and sustaining bond between one another that allows people to live out normal and healthy lives. Back in the 1950’s the leading idea for raising children was to leave them alone, and not coddle them[2]; this was supposed to form a type of independence that people at the time were looking for in their children. In order to fully validate this claim a professor by the name of Harry Harlow[3] started a study using Rhesus monkeys. In order to put any validity to his claim he had to raise these baby monkeys in accordance to his believes, therefore, like hospitals, he separated all the baby monkeys, gave them toys, medical attention, a place to sleep, and good healthy food. As to be expected the monkeys grew big strong and disease free. Although seemingly a positive thing, the monkeys also developed less desirable traits. “Yet they were also profoundly disturbed, given to staring blankly and rocking in place for long periods, circling their cages repetitively, and mutilating themselves.”[4]

Harry Harlow decided that what the monkeys might have been missing was a mother figure, and did a number of tests that experimented with things such as the type of mother, the...
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