Prisons were a brand-new approach in the early 1800’s, it was a new way to punish criminals for the crimes they have committed. Punishment for the crimes had been up for decisions by the districts until then, meaning the towns had all the power and say. Some towns took up a more barbaric approach and used the Hammurabian method. Public execution in public spaces in cities was the punishment for homicide, maltreatment and among other crimes. As a more of a refined judicial system occurred, leaders wanted and needed more of a civilized method of punishment. The leaders even began entertaining the idea of rehabilitating the criminals.
In 1790, Walnut Street Jail in Philadelphia was built which was the first ever established in America designed to punish and mend the behaviors of the criminals. New prisons were popping in New York like the Newgate Prison in New York City, which was shortly followed by the larger Auburn Prison. All three were simple attempts in the advanced theory of modern penology. They all began as warehouses of torture, it seemed to be a more civilized approach but it was not. The hanging sites and stocks, which were once viewed by the public, were moved inside. Those who survived these new prisons mostly came out as better-trained thieves and killers, throwing the theory of rehabilitation out the window. It provided prisoners with some form of shelter from the general population, the prisons gave the public peace of mind. Within the prisons, though there was another problem, the prison population was also being segregated for their safety.
The way they were segregated was the use of solitary confinement, a small room often the size of a parking space, that cuts off all contact with other humans. About a century, solitary confinement was excusable behavior due to the lack of knowledge about humans and the human mind, but the theory of solitary confinement is an outdated concept. Solitary confinement should not have a place in the modern prison system, for it generates physical and psychological abuse of the prisoners. One of the main reasons why solitary confinement is used as a punishment when a prisoner is accused of being a threat to staff and other inmates, and therefore need to be segregated from the rest of the general prison population. Those who support it believe that it is also essential in order to ensure the general prison population’s safety, but it also still allows prisoners to serve their sentences. Solitary confinement would allow for sentences to be served more accurately in a morally appropriate technique, instead of the more debate topic of the death plenty.
Robert Trestman, M.D., Ph.
D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut and executive director of Correctional Managed Health Care, said during an interview. Many people have a preconception of what correctional environments are, particularly for those with serious mental illness, There are some people, particularly those with psychotic disorders or personality disorders, who are very suspicious and who want to feel safe.
So in spite of the many movies and television series you hear about, for many folks, correctional environments can be safer than their real-life experiences in the world. Their anxiety is reduced, and their safety is increased. And many psychiatric symptoms are going to be minimized. So as bizarre as that sounds, that is why all of these populations, in general, tend to do well. And even for those inmates who were not mentally ill, simply being in a structured environment helped them get better. Also keep in mind that while drugs of abuse are never completely eliminated in correctional environments, their availability is dramatically reduced. And co-occurring substance abuse, a major problem for many people with serious mental illness, is reduced, if not eliminated.Even though most of the inmates in solitary confinement did not get worse psychologically, most did not get better.
This study supports the need for adequate, which likely means enhanced, mental health services for mentally ill inmates housed in long-term segregation units. This study should not be generalized to other segregation units in other prison systems unless the conditions of confinement are very similar. For example, most inmates in segregation in this study had in-cell TVs, which often is not available in other prison segregation units. Therefore, this study is a component source and their argument is invalid. Almost all of the solitary confinement cells in the United States is completely cut off from any source of any human contact. Prisoners are forced to sit in silence and only get one hour of exercise if they are so lucky to have good weather and fair correction officers.
Another reason why this practice is so highly used and enforced across the country is that gives the correction officers another way to punish prisoners. Without some sort of punishment for negative behavior, it would be nearly impossible for prison guards to maintain order within the prison walls. Many believe that this is true, seeing that the prisoners are animals and that they are not human and that they refuse to follow rules or are able to be reformed. Most of the time prisoners are being abused by the correction officers or being denied their basic human rights, therefore, are not following orders. There are other ways to discipline prisoners and there are more ways to rehabilitate them, and those measures are not being taken.
Instead, the correction officers come up with the idea that an individual does not like the idea of being locked up in a cell with zero human contact for weeks or even years in some cases on, then when they come out of solitary the prisoners will magically be better and that they will be rehabilitated. The rules regarding the conduct which they would be put in segregation must be clearly defined and explained to inmates, which might not be enforced in prisons leaving the prisoners no way of knowing the rules. Prison officials may punish prisoners by withdrawing certain privileges, such as seeing visitors, buying items from the commissary, or earning wages. Prisoners cannot be denied fundamental human necessities.
Each prison has its own system and titles for different degrees of segregation. Separate areas may be set aside for young prisoners, repeat offenders, or prisoners who have been sentenced to death, homosexuals and other prisoners who have or may be subjected to sexual abuse can be segregated from the general prison population. Solitary confinement was not found unconstitutional in and of itself. Conditions in some prisons, however, have been found to be so strict that they constitute cruel and unusual punishment. A person in solitary confinement can be punished by the restriction of ordinary privileges, but a prisoner cannot be denied basic food, light, ventilation, or sanitation. Just because there are rules and guidelines in place does not mean that it is enforced, and the evidence that correction officers and prison officials not following these rules are overwhelming. The excuse that this is another use of punishment for the prisoners is not acceptable, it helps the prisoner in no way and in fact, makes the prisoner are a higher risk of harming themselves and developing mental illnesses. A reason that solitary is a cruel and unjust punishment is that the prison guards have all the access in the world to watch the prisoners in solitary confinement.
In the cells of solitary confinement, guards can and will monitor the actions of inmates by using video cameras, the prisoners have little to no privacy in their day to day lives. All of the watching is done electronically, and therefore can be used to watch the prisoners over and over. The prisoners know that they are be watched continuously and know that nothing they do is private and that anyone for the correction officers can observe what they are doing. The psychological effects that this has on the prisoners is unimaginable, this can lead to mental illness like paranoia. As humans we have the right to our privacy and being in those parking spot size cells, they are denied those rights.
It might cause prisoners to have personality and mental health disorders. Those who are being isolated would be vulnerable or at much higher risk of having mental disorders. In current years, correction officers have been turning more to solitary confinement as a way to punish difficult or dangerous prisoners from the rest of the prison population. Many of the prisoners subjected to isolation, which can and have to extend for years, have developed a serious mental illness. The conditions of solitary confinement can be a catalyst in the victim’s symptoms or provoke recurrence from past illnesses.
The use of isolation, often called segregation, is to confine prisoners who have been violating prison rules, any rules. The prisoner could be apart of a riot or a maybe they didn’t clean their cell, both could have the prisoner in segregation for weeks or months. Physicians who work in U.S. prison facilities face ethically difficult challenges arising from substandard working conditions, dual loyalties to patients and employers, and the tension between reasonable medical practices and the prison rules and culture. In recent years, physicians have increasingly confronted a new challenge: the prolonged solitary confinement of prisoners with serious mental illness, a corrections practice that has become prevalent despite the psychological harm it can cause. There has been scant professional or academic attention to the unique ethics-related quandary of physicians and other healthcare professionals when prisons isolate inmates with mental illness. We hope to begin to fill this gap.
Solitary confinement is recognized as difficult to withstand; indeed, psychological stressors such as isolation can be as clinically distressing as physical torture. Nevertheless, U.S. prison officials have increasingly embraced a variant of solitary confinement to punish and control difficult or dangerous prisoners.
Whether in the so-called supermax prisons that have proliferated over the past two decades or in segregation (i.e., locked-down housing) units within regular prisons, tens of thousands of prisoners spend years locked up 23 to 24 hours a day in small cells that frequently have solid steel doors. They live with extensive surveillance and security controls, the absence of ordinary social interaction, abnormal environmental stimuli, often only three to five hours a week of recreation alone in caged enclosures, and little, if any, educational, vocational, or other purposeful activities. They are handcuffed and frequently shackled every time they leave their cells. The terms segregation, solitary confinement, and isolation will be used interchangeably to describe these conditions of confinement. Isolation can be psychologically harmful to any prisoner, with the nature and severity of the impact depending on the individual, the duration, and particular conditions including access to natural light, books, or a radio. Psychological effects can include anxiety, depression, anger, cognitive disturbances, perceptual distortions, obsessive thoughts, paranoia, and psychosis.
The adverse effects of solitary confinement are especially significant for persons with serious mental illness, commonly defined as a major mental disorder like; schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder. This is usually characterized by psychotic symptoms and/or significant functional impairments. The stress, lack of meaningful social contact, and unstructured days can exacerbate symptoms of illness or provoke recurrence. Suicides occur statistically more often in segregation units than elsewhere in prison, in an overwhelming number. All too frequently, mentally ill prisoners decompensate in isolation, requiring crisis care or psychiatric hospitalization, many of the prisoners simply will not get better as long as they are isolated from human contact.