Statement from 37 TN Prisoners on the Many Forms of Isolation in Solitary Confinement
With all due respect, I have prepared this correspondence in the hopes that I might shine some light on the unjustified, cruel, and unusual treatment/torture that is occurring here in the Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) and hopefully find a solution and or remedy to the issues and problems we as prisoners face on a day to day basis here within the Tennessee Department of Corrections prisons.
For the past six years, to this day, I have been confined to solitary confinement, due to no fault of my own, and when I ask “why am I being segregated/isolated?” I am told, "we do not know for sure but it came from higher up" or "it's for your own good" or "it's a request from central office in Nashville." I have written to central office in Nashville multiple times about the matter and have yet to receive any type of reply.
Since I have been in solitary confinement/isolation, I have lost a drastic amount of weight due to the lack of nutrients because of the small portions of food they are providing to inmates in solitary confinement/isolation units and or pods. They claim to give us prisoners the required sufficient adequate amount of calories each meal per day. But in reality, the prisoners are being deprived of basic human rights and or needs, as a punishment, being placed in punitive/isolation units or pods. For example, on the date of November 18th, 2015, for dinner, I received only a small slice of cornbread, two small hash browns, and a half of a Styrofoam cup of chicken broth, (cup size about ½ of a pint.) This was approximately 6:35pm. That was just one of the many nights I've went to sleep hungry, knowing I would not receive anything else to eat until 7am or 8am the next morning.
As an inmate here in the state of Tennessee, in the Tennessee Department of Corrections custody, myself and others are subjected to dehumanizing scrutiny on a daily basis and it does us no good to try to do things the right way in most cases as far as going through the proper channels like filing a complaint or grievances, because the people who pick up the grievances are the same officers (correctional officers) you are filing the complaint on, and or their co-workers/friends. Therefore, the grievance or complaint goes into the trash, leaving the inmate no option other than act out which in turn gives the officers validity to violate the inmates further, then it comes down to the inmate's word against the correctional officer's word and we all know how that turns out. Being that we are in punitive units or pods, solitary confinement, isolation (locked in a small 8x12 cell, twenty-three hours a day, Monday through Friday, and twenty-four hours a day on weekends and holidays), we are condemned, considered and labeled as trouble makers.
It is a known fact that isolation is a key to solitary confinement, and one cannot exist without the other, but what the TDOC has mastered is that they have orchestrated conditions which identify and then exploit the multiplicity of the tactical mechanics of isolation. Physical isolation is just one form of isolation: you would then discover its multiplicity.
Now allow me to give examples of these: social isolation, racial-cultural isolation, ideological isolation, political isolation, religious isolation, spiritual isolation and geographical isolation just to name a few.
Before I continue, I would like to take this opportunity to illustrate the malevolent and nefarious parasitic nature of the tactics of the TDOC agents and what they use to achieve mental dismantlement and social isolation. During and or within these past six years, I have been in solitary confinement/isolation, I have endured dehumanizing situations such as, I have been made to strip completely nude in front of a group of men and or correctional officers, (five for more), made to spread my butt cheeks and bend over on multiple occasions. I've been stripped down to my boxers and thrown into a cell that had no working plumbing, unable to flush the toilet, which was already filled with another person's defecation and urination for days at a time. I have been put in cells and denied a mat to sleep on, forced to sleep on the cold hard metal or concrete floors, no sheets or blankets, toiletries for at least a week at a time. I have been beaten beyond recognition on more than one occasion and I have been denied food and given empty food trays for days at a time. I have also been given food that has had living bugs crawling in it and small broken pieces of glass in it and this is just to name a few of the torturous things I have experienced while in solitary confinement/isolation while in the custody of the TDOC.
Sometimes for days on in, reality itself can seem to vanish from this place, and yet, on other days as I sit, locked in solitary confinement for a minimum of twenty-three hours a day, I sometimes cannot block out the screaming that never stops, the screams of prisoners being beaten, mentally and or physically, screams of grown men retreating from the intolerable pain of reality into madness.
Now I ask what is solitary confinement? Wait I know at first glance and from its most simplistic perspective that question might seem rhetorical, if not insulting to one's intelligence, but you would be surprised if not incredulous as to know there is so much more than just being separated from others. And even more perplexing is that most prisoners, not being able to formulate their own words in order to truly convey their answers, would probably give the same standard antiquated response which is, "a prisoner in a cell or behind a solid door where he or she is isolated from other prisoners and human contact." I mean listen, by no means am I implying that is the wrong answer, but what I am implying is, that's the right answer and yet so much more!
See the answer is more complex than just saying separated from all other inmates, like when physical isolation was the only criteria for defining what solitary confinement is. The science of solitary confinement/isolation has expanded beyond its original tactical application. From the beginning of the twentieth century on back, the answer given was applicable, but at the start of the twenty first century its theoretical concept remained, but its tactical application has transformed. This is directly due to two principal exponential factors, 1) the advancements in technology and 2) a more in depth and functional knowledge of the process, as a direct result of analyzing past applications of solitary confinement/isolation and their desired ramifications.
Please understand that social isolation has a dual nature and function. It is used to facilitate the isolation process as it pertains to the precision targeting of a specific prisoner or prisoners and to serve as a tactical instrument in the service of their (the TDOC agents) torture program. TDOC has taken isolation/solitary confinement to a scientific level. It has become so sophisticated in its execution, it is barely detected on the average prison-rights activist's radar. In fact, the average prisoners often times are blinded to the deliberate manipulation of conditions that are not required to complete and complement the implementation of the new application of solitary confinement/isolation.
Allow me to employ a civilian example to illustrate the utilization of multiplicity of isolation, before I briefly elaborate on its utility within the TDOC. Okay, let's say I have an eight-bedroom house and each has a television and I pick eight people to live in the house. There are four rooms upstairs and four rooms downstairs. Upstairs, I have selected the following four people: 1) a Jewish holocaust survivor, 2) a Nazi concentration camp guard, 3) a member of Hamas, and 4) an Israeli soldier. Downstairs, I have selected the following four people: 1) Nat Turner, 2) a slave master who had enslaved Nat Turners family, 3) A Liberal, and 4) Donald Trump.
Now see, I deliberately identified all contradictory bodies of politics. Can you imagine the outcome of such an orchestrated dynamic?
Now even though there are no bars on the bedroom doors, I have induced and orchestrated conditions that are designed to facilitate isolation. Most of these individuals would avoid each other and stay to themselves. I've manipulated conditions that produce a solitary state. Though there are eight people in this house, there will be little to no communication. For the most part, they will stay to themselves, reinforcing the isolation/solitary confinement. But it was I who induced these conditions, knowing the inevitable outcome. These individuals will become isolated in a solitary state but completely compelled by me.
Now let's replace the eight rooms with eight cells in a pod with the same racial, cultural, geographical, political, ideology, religious, and socially diverse contradictions but intensified ten fold. This is the new anatomy of solitary confinement/isolation. Please understand that this new architectural structure of today's prisons cannot structurally accommodate the old forms of solitary confinement/isolation. Their infrastructural designs have given birth to new forms of solitary confinement/isolation and torture! These modern-day dungeons are more technically sophisticated, intricate, and not to mention elusive to the average person in society.
I believe it is critical and overly necessary that I use every avenue and approach available so that I can expose the tactics that are being used to implement social isolation as it relates to the precision targeting for the sole purpose of increasing the degree of dehumanization and isolation for a specific target or targets.
These tactics are criminal and in direct violation of our constitutionally protected rights. The TDOC agents of oppression have developed these criminal tactics and deploy them at whim. I should know because I have been one of their primary targets for extreme isolation for years now!
Please don't judge the content of this letter by the man who is writing it, my being incarcerated does not negate my intelligence nor does it take away from my capacity to articulate the complex dynamics of solitary confinement. In fact, my six years of being in solitary confinement, dealing with dehumanizing treatment, torture every day, three hundred and sixty-five days a year for six years, well qualifies me to speak and write on these issues.
I trust that I have provided a comprehensive illustration so that you can and will fully grasp, vividly, the significance of this torturous situation we prisoners, we the people within the TDOC, as human beings are enduring right here in America.This report was signed by 37 prisoners