The Warped Fantasy of Solitary Confinement

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photo courtesy of Dev Asangam


We torture people in America, tens of thousands of them every day. It’s done in our names, with our tax dollars, behind closed doors. (Laura Rovner, law professor, University of Denver)


We have a warped fantasy about prison. Barack Obama sermonized, “We believe that when people make mistakes, they deserve the opportunity to remake their lives.” But punishment does not usher in piety. We want to believe that you go to prison with a scarlet letter and come out washed clean; it is a baptism. That prison is some sort of university for the impulsive and uncontrollable.


Kalief Browder enrolled in community college, earned a 3.5 GPA, but he couldn’t manage his panic attacks. He left school and then returned when an anonymous donor paid his tuition. He wrote about solitary confinement and received an A grade.


It is not what you think. It is not what you have been told. It is not a box. A box has mercy. A box has light. Boxes don’t shutter screams and men begging day and night. Women don’t weep in boxes until their skin bleeds.

Writing: Race and Gender, Politics, Healthcare, Environmental Abuse, Domestic Violence

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