By Christopher Zoukis This past week, a UK transgender woman incarcerated in a men’s prison in Bath, took her life. The warning signs from Vicky Thompson were far from subtle: she had repeatedly told family, friends, and prison officials that she would kill herself were she to find herself in a men’s prison. Yet
Rick Raemisch, Colorado’s new corrections director, wanted to better understand the experience of solitary confinement – so he spent a night in segregation at a state prison.
Raemisch had been on the job for seven months when he decided to stay overnight in an ad seg cell at the Colorado State Penitentiary. “I thought he was crazy,” said Warden Travis Trani, who added, “I also admired him for wanting to have the experience.” Trani received only nine hours notice that his boss was arriving for an extended visit.
On January 23, 2014, just after 7:00 p.m., Raemisch, handcuffed and shackled and wearing a prison uniform, entered cell 22. He was classified as “RFP,” or “Removed From Population.” After being uncuffed through the food slot he was left alone in the 7-by-13-foot cell.
In an editorial published in The New York Times on February 20, Raemisch said the experience was challenging.
“First thing you notice is that it’s anything but quiet. You’re immersed in a drone of garbled noise: other inmates, blaring TVs, distant conversations, shouted arguments. I couldn’t make sense of any of it, and was left feeling twitchy and paranoid,” he wrote. “I kept waiting for the lights to turn off, to signal the end of the day. But the lights did not shut off. I began to count the small holes carved in the walls. Tiny grooves made by inmates who’d chipped away at the cell as the cell chipped away at them. For a sound mind, those are daunting circumstances. But every prison in America has become a dumping ground for the mentally ill, and often the ‘worst of the worst,’ some of society’s most unsound minds, are dumped in Ad Seg.”
By Christopher Zoukis On February 11, 2014 the Public Safety Committees of the California legislature held their second hearing on the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) solitary confinement policies and practices. This hearing was prompted in part due to the massive, and historic, work strike and hunger strike of over 30,000 California state
By Jean Trounstine This past February 25th, a panel of experts on solitary confinement converged at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to discuss the horrendous practice in our U.S. prisons that many call “cruel and unusual punishment.” While the panel detailed the disastrous effects such isolation causes, the legal challenges through the years and the