Solitary confinement is a kind of incarceration where a convict is kept away from any contact with other people. The inmates are locked in, and they only come into minimal contact with the prison staff. Indeed, this kind of imprisonment is usually employed to convicts who have violated prison rules and regulations, which sometimes lasts for days or years. Additionally, it is used as a protection measure for prisoners who are at a high risk of suicide. The imprisonment prevents the inmate from accessing any tools that they could use to harm themselves or commit suicide. Therefore, to understand the concept of this incarceration, it is imperative to discuss the solitary confinement, the current law, and the amendments made in the Act concerning isolation.
There have been discussions on how solitary confinement works, when it should be applied, and the impacts it has on those who are subjected to it. Extensive study has been carried out on how the process affects a person, psychologically, emotionally and mentally. Various recommendations that have been suggested are that one should be placed in isolation in rare cases and it should be for brief moments. In addition, for solitary confinement to take place, the cells should be improved. The American law states that the administrative segregation should be applied as a last resort; however, there are no stable rules to enforce it (Lena and McCathy 54). Furthermore, according to human rights organizations, prolonged confinements amount to an abuse of human rights. Thus, there should be clear and safer ways of managing the convicts who may be taken to solitary confinements.
Due to the negative effects caused by solitary confinement, the practice has been confronted as the worst approach of punishing prisoners. In fact, the issue has not escaped the attention of the media, lawmakers, and the human rights advocates. Convicts from California State demanded the public attention as a way of pushing for amendments to the solitary confinements law (Hinds and Butler 1). The California State government was pressured to have the practice reformed. After assessing the changes made by the states of New York, Maine, and Colorado who had successfully made major reforms of the solitary confinement practices, the State of California has started making adjustments (Cockrell 216). Therefore, upon implementation of the amended law, the state of California will join the few American states, which have changed this particular law making it humane.
Research has shown that isolations amount to torture. The prisoners who are placed in solitary confinement are kept in uncomfortable situations that cause them to be angry and anxious thereby leading to mood swings and hallucination. The issue is worse when it comes to inmates suffering from mental illnesses since the condition can initiate permanent changes in a person’s mind. The long periods spent in isolation make it hard for the prisoner to associate with fellow inmates or the public after their release from prison (Casella, Ridgeway, and Shourd 67). Hence, when introducing solitary confinement, there should be careful considerations since the people may find themselves involved in crimes, which may lead them back to prison.
Solitary confinement causes serious illnesses and mental deterioration. In this case, various campaigns have been initiated to lobby for the end of this practice. The current reforms are due to the serious adverse effects the isolation has on an individual. Human rights activists have been advocating for the reduction of solitary confinement and improvements of the isolation cells. Indeed, the campaigns have led to major changes in the prisons, especially in the states of New York, Maine, and Colorado. In fact, some states across the country have reduced the period at which a person can be isolated (Cockrell 198). By and large, there have been improvements in the isolation cells, hence making the inmates a bit comfortable.
As it is evident from the discussion above, solitary confinement is being used in most of the prisons in the United States. A prisoner is sent to isolation as a form of punishment for violation of prison rules and regulation or as a form of protection, especially on suicidal and mentally ill prisoners. However, it is evident that its application has adverse effects to the inmates who are subjected to it. Therefore, it is important to amend the laws and enforce it in matters regarding isolation to ensure that each prisoner is treated in a civilized manner.