Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mental health in solitary

Here's a nice little radio segment from KUT on legislation previewed here to create a task force to study mental health and other issues related to solitary confinement in Texas prisons. Give it a listen. Exoneree Christopher Scott, who spent about a year in solitary during his 13 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit, testified in the Senate committee in favor of the bill.


David E said...

The court sentenced these offenders under the law to time in prison. There are some (a few) who need to be isolated in some form, but nowhere is it included under the law that mental instability caused by the state is part of the punishment. I hope this legislation passes and wisdom prevails in their findings.

Lance said...

During the Interim Session the Legislature needs to examine developing wireless technologies (restricted wifi) to use in the prisons for education and communications. This would save millions of dolars on education cost and keep inmates focused on productive activities instead of gangs or tattooing. Idle hands and lack of positive simulation are costing taxpayers billions of dollars by increasing recidivism.

An online Windham School District could be implemented, improving enrollment capacity and easing class access. Access to courts requirements could be done online (Closed Intranet) eliminating the need for the massive law library program that exist on every unit. The savings from just that could fund a restricted network.

A wireless network would reduce the need for inmate movement on the prison unit and improve security. Lockdowns or unit transfers would not disrupt an inmates education. The system could also be available if an inmate is placed into administrative segregation further allowing an inmate the chance to continue on a positive course.

Anonymous said...

wifi access in Ad Seg! These are sad times we are living in. Humor is where you find it. Now that's funny!

Phillip Baker said...

Some of us are trying to restore county jails to coverage by this legislation. It was yanked after the sheriffs' association objected. But abuses of solitary confinement are rampant in jails, with attendant mental health consequences that go with that person to prison.

It is far past time for TDCJ to move into the 20th century (Baby steps. They can be dragged into the 21st in a few decades. Maybe) Inmates visits via Skype or similar free program would help keep families together and improve inmate behavior. How about using open source internet to expand educational opportunities system wide? More GPS use should greatly decrease the numbers of inmates who must be incarcerated- at great cost. Online access to legal libraries would replace the need for paper libraries (Which are certainly NOT maintained at all units. and access to which is often restrained by prison staff for dubious reasons despite the law). non-legal libraries could hugely expand using the internet.

But nobody will use the internet during lockdowns, unless laptops are available. Nor will it be possible in ad seg for no other reason than punitive ones.

However, prisons would have to add staff to help inmates with the internet and to monitor usage. The technology is already available to restrict internet access to only approved sites. And somebody would have to train the average guard/ warden/major etc to use the internet first.

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