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How did he overcome more than four decades of solitary confinement ?

Discussion in 'Spiritual and Mental Well Being' started by FossilHead, Feb 23, 2016.

  1. FossilHead

    FossilHead Staff Member

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    Albert Woodfox and the Case Against Solitary Confinement

    http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-...id=gnep&intcid=gnep&google_editors_picks=true

    With only a few brief exceptions, Woodfox had been held in his prison cell, alone, for twenty-three hours every day since 1972. For one hour each day he was allowed out of his cell to take a shower or exercise—still in total isolation. In short, for more than four decades, he was denied human contact.

    (The rest of the article is worthy of a read)


    Now I agree that the use of "isolation" in a prison setting is a necessary form of behavior-modification, and that continued good discipline and control may require it........but for 43 freaking years?????!!!!!!
    Just how in hell can such treatment be justified?!
    And when are first-world, civilized societies going to stop/prohibit such a cruel and unusual punishment?

    (AND, just how in the hell did this man retain and maintain his sanity??!)

    I'll bet he could teach everyone a thing or three about "Spiritual and Mental Well-Being!"

    I would like to hear his story, and hope some author will write it for him!
     
  2. BurtMeister3000

    BurtMeister3000 Staff Member

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    Damn!

    43 years? Shit, that's longer than Nelson Mandela!
     
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  3. Corvid

    Corvid Active Member

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    It's mad. Freedom of choice is a big thing for an isolationist mindset. As in, if you're actively choosing to spend time by yourself and know that you can go for a walk and spend time with people whenever you want... That to me is fine. But where you're confined against your will and can't engage with anyone, or even go for a walk when you want.. Completely different thing, Those two forms of isolation can't be compared. Have read a few books about people spending years in prison and the effects of isolation - True: Cell 2455 Death Row, Papillon, Man is Wolf to Man, The Long Walk, The Colditz Story. Fiction: The Count of Monte Cristo, The House of the Dead. I think meditation, yoga and tai-chi would be the order of the day. The OP article doesn't state whether the prisoner was allowed books or correspondence. He looks happy in his picture, and that's something at least.

    From the outside, to me, the American prison system looks awful. They hold records for high rates of imprisonment, the sentences are really, really long, there's lots of legal loopholes to keep you in prison even after your original sentence ends, you're expected to plead guilty to things you didn't do to get a chance at a lighter sentence.. and the big one, it's largely privatised, so it looks like a mostly money oriented business.

    Sentences in Ireland are shorter, and it's harder to get sent straight to prison. It seems like the legal eagles here know that prison often makes a first time offender much worse, and ruins chances of them getting a job later on and leaving crime behind. Also, prison is expensive and full, so they don't seem to have the same length sentences, and small offenders usually get probation or very short terms. I'd rather have it this way. There's much less violent crime here, all the same, and there's not much in the way of gun crime.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2016
  4. FossilHead

    FossilHead Staff Member

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    I don't know how things work at Angola, and definitely cannot speak to how things worked years ago, anywhere.
    However, in my state's prisons he would have been allowed books and magazines, with some small stipulations.

    The American prison system has been "awful" for a long time......thankfully, things are improving, albeit slowly.
    We are finally working to separate first-time offenders and youth from the long-term, hardcore guys, and states are changing the way in which isolation is used, just to name a couple.


    The thing that is beyond the pale is the number of individuals incarcerated----- many for life, many more for >25 years----- for fecking drug offenses.
    If we turned those people out, I have read that it would reduce the number incarcerated by 2/3........
     
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  5. BurtMeister3000

    BurtMeister3000 Staff Member

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    With the conservatives trying to privatise everything over here. I wonder how much longer will it be before the prison system gets the same treatment. Then it will be a business that can get away with paying its workers less than the national minimum wage and ruining your chances of getting real job when you get out. More or less condemning you to a life of crime and increasing your chances of heading back to the cheap labour camp for more of the same.
     
  6. Corvid

    Corvid Active Member

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    Yeah, that's what I fear for here too. Everything is getting privatised here now. There's plenty of multinationals that see prisons as a state subsidised, extremely low cost labour initiative. The incentive to create a profitable prison sector is there, and now the opportunities to do so too.
     
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  7. Corvid

    Corvid Active Member

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    Regarding books and magazines, in a lot of cases solitary is viewed as a punishment, as such, inmates are not allowed furniture, books, writing materials etc. I hope he writes a book or employs a ghost writer as you say, it would be a good story.

    Yes, that's here too. People shouldn't be in prison for light drugs offences. It doesn't solve much. So many ruined lives and wasted potential.
     
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  8. Mebs

    Mebs Active Member

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    I don't know how many people survive in such awful conditions in prisons. Did any of you read the Warren Fellows book on his experience in a Thai prison? Truly disturbing book.
     
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  9. Kitsune

    Kitsune Staff Member

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    The worst part there is it was done without proper procedure. It's not even clear if he was guilty. That's horrible. Even if he was, I can't see solitary serving a real purpose unless he was a threat.
    It was punishment, as they said. People who can't take an objective stance shouldn't be in that position. It's not an opportunity to torture people. You are serving out the decided justice, that is all. How are they to reform, if not given an opportunity.

    And yeah, how did he keep his sanity. For a time, I imagine he was well behaved as the thought of getting out required it. Over time, his spirit would have to have been broken.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2016
  10. BurtMeister3000

    BurtMeister3000 Staff Member

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    I do wonder about the "proper" procedure over here too sometimes.
     
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