Good evening. My name is Peter Kamal Mukuria. I’m currently incarcerated in Red Onion State Prison in Pound, Virginia. This commentary is about psychological torture.
The first thing that enters a person’s psyche when the term torture is mentioned is a typical diabolic acts inflicted on a person such as waterboarding and starvation, asphyxiation, cruxifixions which is widely used by Greeks and Romans, or the atrocities carried out in the Nazi concentration camps, etcetera.
But those are the types of tortures I’m alluding to in this commentary. I believe that it’s essential to fathom that torture isn’t just the infliction of physical pain. Psychological torture is oftentimes more agonizing and damaging than actual physical pain. This [inaudible] can be defined in the Webster’s New World College Dictionary as a conflict or campaign utilizing psychological means to unsettle an opponent or to destroy morale.
Which has become normalized in prisons nationally, including in Virginia where I’m currently confined, is strategically intended to break the human mind. I’ve been housed in solitary confinement for the past 5 years with no release in the foreseeable future, locked in an 8 by 10 cell for 22 hours a day, no human contact, degrading and dehumanizing [inaudible] and procedures and placed in restraints each time I exit a cell for any reason, be it for outside recreation, locked a dog cage once again, shower or medical.
This is the case with a myriad of prisoners. After a while this [inaudible] conditions can tamper with one’s mental health and, consequently, the oftentimes breed rage, years of chronic depression, emotional numbing, severe difficulty concentrating, short-term memory loss, suicidal thoughts and/or behavior, paranoia, inability to form and maintain relationships, loneliness, and psychologic issues verging on outright insanity.
This can be traced to direct seclusion having spent years in complete and coerced social isolation in solitary confinement, which is among the most abnormal and pathogenic environments to wear out a human being.
Even the Supreme Court, having several cases concluded a years on and of near total isolation, exact a terrible price on the prisoner’s mental health. The portrait of the twenty-first century crime and punishment raises the question of whether solitary confinement is indeed unproductively punitive and torturous, or just a [inaudible] that can be used but needs to be amended. I leave that to the listeners to decide. However, no matter what conclusion one reaches, I believe that no human beings should be subjected to any form of torture.
Thank you for listening. Have a great one.
These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.