The Legal Ramifications Of Solitary Confinment

For anyone who’s ever been confined to a jail cell or prison cell, the thought of confinement is in itself a terrible disposition and a lowly form of existence. Additional detriments to this condition include the addition of one or more hostile, anti-social or pathological cell-mates who make life even more difficult to deal with on a daily basis.

There’s no worse feeling than being caged in with one or more other lunatics whom you can’t trust and fear for your life. The only avenue of repose in this type of situation is to be placed in solitary confinement. Although this situation might seem a break from the insanity of overcrowding, it too holds a long established set of problems, especially when it’s strict solitary confinement.

Penal institutions often use solitary confinement as a punitive tool to enhance an inmate’s experience, especially when the inmate is charged with additional crimes within the penal system, up to and including altercations, theft or even attempts to escape. A prisoner might find himself isolated if he suddenly becomes the object of desire by others in the system, whether its through exploitation or protection as a witness.

Unfortunately, the adverse effects of pure solitary confinement have been researched and found to be evident in a majority of prisoner who might find themselves in this situation. Whether it’s called the ‘hole’ or the ‘box’ or the ‘shoe’ or ‘the block’ or perhaps ‘the cooler’ or simply ‘segregation’, the impact of pure isolation except for one or two hours a day with only access to prison staff is undeniable.

Some compare the effects of this type of isolation to pure torture, and question its legality. If the human mind can erode into a bubbling mess of anguish when placed in an isolation chamber, then it isn’t much different than when it’s placed in prison isolation. Only pure anthrophobes might find this situation livable, otherwise a normal individual would succumb to the torture of being alone hour after hour, until some type of adverse behavioral manifestation would creep in and take over. It’s been proven over and over again that these individuals begin to exhibit hallucinations, loss of touch with reality and the invocation of self-harming thoughts. Without access to healthcare, these thoughts and behaviors take on a new form in the individual’s mind and set them up for failure once they rejoin the population. For this type of torture one must question whether this is a legality issue in our penal systems.