Is Solitary Confinement One Of The Best Alternatives for Reform Measures?

Solitary confinement is a kind of imprisonment wherein an inmate/prisoner is isolated from human contacts for 22 to 24 hours every day. Only the prison staff is allowed to contact the inmate for a couple of hours. It is usually employed as a type of punishment to inmates for violating prison regulations. While some experts argue that solitary confinement can be dangerous to prisoners, others (who support strict usual prison alternatives and reform measures) assert that such a punishment is just and fair not only for the betterment of other prisoners, but for the prisoner himself.

Supposed Pros of solitary confinement

Dangerous prisoners such as child molesters, murderers and ex-gang members can be kept segregated. These prisoners pose real threats to fellow inmates and the prison staff. Since segregation uses higher level of security and isolates the inmate from others, it is not likely that the prisoner will harm others.

Rehabilitation and reformation of the prisoner’s character is another benefit of segregation. Often prisoners repent on their wrong doings while they are in a prison, and this is even more correct when they are isolated from others. Once left with their conscience, prisoners will engage in inner reflection, take a look at the error of their ways and get transformed into law abiding citizens after getting out of the prison.

Isolation also safeguards general public and prison staff. Segregation from human contacts makes certain that no one will get physically harmed by the inmate. Such a punishment is ideal for those who are violent and harm anyone they get in contact with.

Definite Cons of solitary confinement

While complete isolation presents a number of benefits, this kind of punishment has certain drawbacks as well. First of all, it creates the loss of freedom for inmates. If a prisoner is kept segregated, he might be stripped of the sensation of having control over his surroundings, and this can lead to enhanced anxiety, claustrophobia and paranoia.

Also, it may not meet all needs of a prisoner. Most of the policies of complete isolation require 22 to 23 hours of segregation each day. Only an hour or two is reserved for recreational activities for prisoners. However, such a small time frame may not meet the needs of an inmate, and he can resort to self-destructive behavior.

Bottom line

Solitary confinement is a type of punishment that has its own merits and demerits. While most of the law enforcers believe that the punishment is one of the best alternatives and reform measures, others assert that segregation is not just and fair. Still, the practice of complete isolation prevails today for violent prisoners.

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