Solitary Confinement is Inhumane
Solitary Confinement is Inhumane
The Head of the Colorado Prison System was locked up in solitary confinement to know the experience of thousands of inmates (the exact number is unknown). We re-post excerpts from the article of his experience from the New York Times. Learn what the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is doing to combat Mass Incarceration and other social injustice below.-Ed.

Solitary Confinement is Inhumane

After 20 hours in solitary confinement, the head of the Colorado prison system, Rick Raemisch stated what Unitarian Universalists and many others have said for years, “You don’t have to spend much time in a prison talking to someone in a segregation cell to realize that something is inherently wrong with that... Everything you know about treating human beings, that’s not the way to do it.” Raemisch's take-away: people in incarceration will be returned to society, and how we treat them in prison determines how they will behave in society later.

Punishment vs Rehabiliation

The system of Mass Incarceration includes laws restricting the ability of former inmates to get a job, receive public assistance or vote, ensuring their second-class status, and leaving many former inmates no recourse other than crime to survive. Raemisch recognizes the fundamental inhumanity of Mass Incarceration, stating, “First and foremost, you have to understand that they’re going back, and it’s our job to get them prepared and determined to be law-abiding citizens when they go back,” he said. “I don’t want any new victims. That’s what drives me.”

Unending Solitary

Inmates are typically held in solitary 22 hours per day, indefinitely. Against the backdrop of inmates who spend years (even decades) in solitary confinement, Raemisch observed his time in isolation was brief. “It was 20 hours,” he said. “If it would have been maybe even two days or a week, I would think, ‘Yeah, that would probably get someone’s attention.’ I might walk out stark raving mad, but it would get somebody’s attention.”

Learn what the UUA does to end Mass Incarceration and  fight for social justice. Understand what solitary confinement is and how it works, from Solitary Watch. Study maps from Mother Jones detailing the use of solitary confinement state-by-state. Read the full story on the New York Times online.

About the Author

  • Ted joined the staff of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries in February 2010. He brings more than twenty-five years of experience using media to create social change by creating communications strategies and content for progressive non-profits, political campaigns, and cause based...

For more information contact blueboat@uua.org.

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