When I first went into prison, I was really upset and stubborn because I was imprisoned for a crime I didn’t do. I was getting written up a lot for not going to work and for not doing this and that. Around 1980 or 1981, I was working in the fields picking cotton at Cofield Prison. I got into a fight with one of the other inmates. I was charged with fighting with a weapon, even though I didn’t have a weapon and was sentenced to 15 days of solitary.
If you were in solitary, you were only given a full meal every third day. The first day, you would get a spoonful of rice, a spoonful of beans and a roll. It was very dehumanizing. On the third day, you get a full meal but you’d be so hungry and weak that it wasn’t enough. Without food for three days , you have to be careful about how fast you eat it because you’ll get sick. In the 15 days I was in there, I lost 15 pounds.RELATED: From The Hill blog, "The need to restrict prolonged solitary confinement." From The (UK) Guardian, "Solitary confinement on trial: US prison system's reliance on isolating prisoners is an ineffective and costly human-rights violation, panelists say." The blog Solitary Watch has posted links to all the written materials submitted to the subcommittee.
I was also very cold from lying on steel. They give you one blanket. It wasn’t very long, and you had to ball up in a knot for it to cover you. It was very dirty. It was dark. You don’t know if it’s day or night. You don’t get recreation. They called it “the hole.” There were no phone calls, there was no visitation. It was the worst thing that they had, and I’ll never forget it.