- Martin: Long-term segregation fails to solve mental illness issue
- Graves: Solitary confinement brings no benefit to prison inmates
Like his Congressional testimony on the topic, Graves' column focused on his personal experience in isolation, concluding thusly:
I was proven innocent in 2010, and became Death Row Exonoree No. 138. Some of us on Death Row were innocent. Some were unlawfully sentenced to death and had their sentences thrown out. We all suffered the same.RELATED: See more on solitary confinement and mental health and if you follow the subject don't forget to check in periodically at the indispensable blog Solitary Watch.
If you believe in the death penalty, I hope you would at least agree that some of us - the innocent ones and ones unlawfully sentenced to die - did not deserve this torture. Even if you believe in the death penalty, these torturous conditions make no sense. They damaged guys so much they could not repent for their crimes. Guys could not focus on the wrong they had done when they had a legitimate complaint of being tortured in administrative segregation by the state of Texas. And the torture was unnecessary.
Many people housed in solitary confinement in Texas prisons are not in prison for the rest of their lives. These individuals will one day return to our communities with all the mental health issues and physical problems administrative segregation causes. Hundreds of people are released from solitary confinement directly to the street each year with no oversight of any kind. After years in solitary, these individuals will find the outside world very difficult to navigate.
Now the Texas Legislature is considering two bills - House Bill 1266 and Senate Bill 1003 - that will take a hard look at the administrative segregation policies that caused me so much harm and continue to harm so many behind prison walls. These bills call on Texas to find better solutions to solitary.
I lived through solitary and I know there is a better way. These bills should become law because solitary is simply a tool to break a man's spirit - it doesn't make him better or our communities safer.