Stay-At-Home Orders, Solitary Confinement and Mental Health
There’s been a substantial amount of reports on increases in depression and mental health disorders in the United $tates due to the shelter-in-place orders. In September, Time Magazine cited a study that showed severe depression being reported by 5.1% of people, up from 0.7% before the pandemic. The common explanation for this increase is social isolation combined with uncertainty and fear. Yet we have a prison system that regularly uses more extreme forms of social isolation (for example no internet, and being locked down in a literal cage), uncertainty and fear and people often look at the people in these prisons as being mentally ill. In reality, we are seeing a massive experiment on the larger society that shows this is how most people react in the conditions we face in prison. So what does it mean to be mentally ill, if this is socially induced?
It means this place will drive you crazy. If not by having hardly any contact with the opposite sex, then by isolation in a small cell (including being allowed 3 showers a week and an hour of recreation outside your cell 5 days a week). This is not normal and causes abnormal effects.
As you sit in your dwelling long enough you become a different person. You may find yourself venting or doing things you normally wouldn’t do, like burning down your cell or town.
A person may go a period of time without speaking. An elderly self-disciplined person may stay quiet, longing, but when one does break their silence they will talk for an hour or two until they burn themselves out. This will usually occur once a day in conditions where there’s only one person to talk to, as it is an HCON (high) Control Purpose.
Others began to talk to spirits and demons. In some cases, this is stimulated by them making up stuff in their mind, but there are also diagnosed paranoid prisoners who scream every time the light cuts on and they open their eyes. They also fight demons.
Solitary confinement can also lead to suicide, as an escape. There have been people committing reactionary suicide, like Biscuit from the movie Life, when he ran across the gun line because he “couldn’t go on living.” Psychologists don’t even bother to get to know who you are or talk you through your problems. They either give you some drugs to experiment with or decline to help you altogether. They are unconcerned that abused children are liable to grow up with an attachment disorder which doesn’t necessarily require medication but does require TLC, which a half-dozen psychiatrists can’t provide for the 1200 prisoners here.
On Segregation we receive even less communication with our families who can provide that loving sanctuary and keep us sane, because we have no phone and only one non-contact visit a month (we should be able to receive more TV visits).
Our families mail is sometimes held for a month after it arrives at the prison. This creates depression by worrying about our families and why they haven’t written over the holidays, to later find out devastating news from our loved ones. Talk about fear and uncertainty.
Some people become anti-social in solitary confinement for different reasons. One reason may be that after so much chaos and falling out with people around them in distress, they began to fall back from everyone.
Others find themselves through self-discipline and block out all other worldly distractions to work on their goals.
Some stressed adolescents in solitary confinement turn towards music as escape and begin to sing lyrics at the top of their lungs, others find refuge and entertainment in woofing. With all this racket going on in Restrictive Housing, it will drive a perfectly sane person insane and into an insomniac.
At Polk Correctional Institution in North Carolina on supermax (or HCON, High Risk Security) we don’t go outside because the officials will trash your cell, steal your property, fully restrain you with your hands behind your back connected to chains around your waist, and leave you in a recreation cage with giant brown recluse spiders, all to deter you from going outside again. Similar tactics are practices here at Central Prison.
The air in the building is insufficient for a human being to breathe at times and I’ve experienced shortness of breath. Compare that to wearing a mask that you can easily remove if you choose.
Comrades at that camp have developed bone marrow cancer, and there is probably cause to expect that this cancer may have been caused by the contaminated water they were working in. There was also strong gasoline type chemicals in the food that was being served at the time.
Right now at Central Prison our lunch consists of one bologna and cheese sandwich, 2 crackers and a 2oz (1/4 cup) of fruit with a juice packet every day. Dinner’s no better, and staff will fight and curse you if you speak out, because they have PTSD and other disorders themselves from war, childhood and other experiences. In this way, mental health patients (the staff) are responsibly for the well-being of other mental health patients.
There’s a mental health program called T.D.U. for patients on RHCP (Restrictive Housing Control Purposes) that they can send you to where you can slowly earn privileges like television, canteen, phone, being allowed to come out of your cell, but they never send any New Afrikans to the programs.
By contrast, RHCP pods have 16 cells each, and I have never seen more than 5 non-color people at a time in any pod. At HCON there are four blocks each with two tiers that hold 12 cells each. I have never witnessed more than 2 non-color people on any tier at a time during the 2 years I spent there.
If a non-colored comrade gets in a scuffle on the yard at Central Prison, they may receive a week or two in segregation, but a negro will receive 12-18 months on RHCP. Right now, we are receiving more time at Central Prison on RHCP than prisoners at Polk CI on HCON who spend only 10 months on HCON, but after they do their HCON at Polk CI, Polk may hold them for 6-12 months on RHCP.
Some people haven’t been guilty of any charges to be placed on RHCP or HCON, so Classification will lie and forge paperwork (no due process). They are con artists who don’t follow their own laws.
The ill-treatment we receive from the institution only creates more PTSD and brings unnecessary bad energy towards people. Workers should be focused on taking care of their families and not risking their lives to oppress others for no gain, but of their master’s amusement.
This room becomes our life. At Polk CI on HCON our cells have showers with food being delivered to their doors, and some guys never want to leave. Some people aren’t going home and to some poor men on the street, incarceration provides 3 meals a day. In the County jail I’ve seen people live in the hole and refuse to leave on numerous occasions.
Solitary confinement is the only place I’ve seen a man smear shit everywhere including his face, and eat shit sandwiches. Tell me this is normal and something you see people do. Thankfully they finally sent this particular prisoner to the mental hospital where he may get some help (and not get thrown in a cage for sleeping in some bushes on public property because he’s a poor New Afrikan man who was stripped of his assets).
Comrades, we are not ourselves behind the door, so I’ll leave you with the words a knowledgeable man left with me:
No 2 men get along without respect.