Sunday, June 14, 2015

Alone Time: Solitary confinement roundup

Here are a few items related to solitary confinement that merit Grits readers' attention:
  • Anthony Graves published a column in Time magazine describing his time in solitary confinement, and spoke to the issue of releasing people directly from solitary to the free world: "Freeing an inmate from solitary can be risky. You’re taking someone who has had no hope, no tools to succeed in this world, and you’re putting them back in society and asking them to do the right thing. Sometimes they’re so angry and hopeless that they commit another crime just to go back in."
  • Albert Woodfox, one of the Angola 3 in Louisiana, was released unconditionally after an astonishing 43 years in solitary confinement. See background here and here.
  • Here's a story of a 19th century serial killer who spent a "half century" in solitary confinement.
  • A federal lawsuit in Virginia is challenging whether death row inmates must automatically be assigned to solitary confinement. In the early stages, but this would be a big deal if it makes.
  • See recent reports on solitary confinement from the Vera Institute and the ACLU of Texas.


Kerry Cook said...

During my time spent in Solitary Confinement -- two grueling years in the Smith County during retrials in the 90's and ine year in the Williamson County Jail -- it was a mind-altering experience two of those three years were spent in complete darkness held without bond on the basis of "fraudulent evidence" created by former Smith County district attorney A D. Clark, III to satisfy "probabal cause" to effectuate my arrest.

I grew painfully paranoid, hallucinated, and the deafening silence created its own litany of words. I cannot say i almoat lost my mind because during that three years fighting the worst police & prosecutorial misconduct imaginable, i DID temporarily lose my mind.

I could write a book on the causes and effects/affects of somitary confinement.

Anonymous said...

Cruel & Unusual

Robyn Short said...

The book "The Darkest Hour: Shedding Light on the Impact of Isolation and Death Row in Texas Prisons" by Southern Methodist University professor and psychologist Dr. Betty Gilmore and Nanon Williams, who was formerly on Texas Death Row and is now serving a life sentence for a murder all evidence indicates he did not commit ( is an in-depth view of the Texas prison system with a specific focus on death row and solitary confinement. The impact of living in severely restrictive conditions is examined through a multi-disciplinary lens that incorporates scientific research and expert opinion and includes powerful narratives from men who have been incarcerated for ten or more years and the people who surround them. Factors such as childhood history, attachment, biology, poverty, race and other social influences are explored in relation to the events that led up to incarceration and the subsequent ability to obtain fair treatment throughout the legal process. The book trailer is posted on this website: There is also a supporting documentary by the same title that is well worth the hour to watch:

Linda R said...

I realize that sometimes solitary confinement is necessary, for very short periods of time. A human must be able to socialize to remain human. TDCJ uses entirely too much solitary time. Even 3 days is too long. I have worked in Mental Health 35 years and I have seen the results first hand. It should be used only to restrict someone from harming himself or others, not as punishment. TDCJ is punishment enough

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Kerry - I'd buy a copy for myself and one as a gift in addition to promoting it and your personal 'F-Story' regarding what can only be described as a 'county' sanctioned living hell, in the hole. With the spotlight dimming on the friggin DNA / Death Row only based Exonerations due to: the defunding of grants, dream-team power trips and ADAs having unlimited/lifetime access to the damn Evidence/Property Rooms, your experience in this wrongful arena warrants a book/guide and documentary. Maybe even an online college course & 254 county (campus) speaking tour as well. I'd be honored to assist you in any endeavor.

*Dark-Boarding - Must be a ‘county’ thang? I had no idea that you were subjected to the same type of weird-ass treatment I went through in Harris County regarding total darkness. When I told my fake CDL that the Harris County Sheriff's Dept. put me in a closet for over eight plus hours with my hands cuffed behind my back and on the floor, he rolled his eyes. While nowhere near 2 years, 8 to 10 hours was enough to lose the use of one's legs, arms and sight for days. They had to drag me out of the building. The broom closet/holding closet is still there on Old Wallisville Road. I faked them out years later making them think I was lost and when I opened up the closet it looked the same - empty with the smell of piss still lingering (probably mine). The door still had the bottom covered so that no light seeped in. When a hired lawyer, the Chron, the Attorney Generals' Office and the Governor himself all failed to see it as a wrong, I was forced to live with it or consider telling everyone about it. Surely, we aren't the only two Texans to be dark-boarded? With that, Kerry, please consider telling everyone before some jerkweed politician tries to outlaw the sharing of personal, wrongful experiences. Huffman the Hag is probably already authoring a bill as we speak.

Thanks. (now, get to writing that book / guide / screenplay)

Anonymous said...

Except any other inmate would have a legitimate complaint about sharing a cell with a death row inmate! The idea is unworkable unless death row inmates only bunk with other death row inmates and even then you could get an innocent guy sharing a cell with a psycho killer.

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Kerry Cook said...

Thanks Thomas.