Prison Radio

Dear Friend,

Solitary confinement is a tool designed to disempower our people, to cut them off, to silence them.

According to Solitary Watch, a current estimate of 80,000 people are held in solitary confinement on a given day. Solitary confinement is commonly applied as a control strategy. There are next to no safeguards enforcing due process for putting someone into isolation. The decision to put someone “in the hole” is left entirely up to prison officials.

Some spend days, others many years in a barren room for 23 to 24 hours a day. The effects on mental health are devastation. A testimony by Dr. Craig Hainey tells us that many people exposed to such deprivation often complain of chronic hopelessness and depression. Risk of suicide dramatically increases as do feelings of paranoid anxiety towards others. The results seem to serve the purpose of completely cutting a person off from society. Correspondent Bryant Arroyo reveals how it “defeats the purpose of any kind of rehabilitation efforts and harkens back to the medieval times.”

Painting by Molly Mendoza (For the Marshall Project), 2019.

Correspondent Shakaboona shares how the lockdowns during the pandemic have “transformed state prisons into one massive solitary confinement system.” He reminds us of how reports show mental health conditions deteriorating in America because of the pandemic. What about our people on the inside, who experience the pandemic in extreme confinement, with little room for safety and appropriate social distancing? How does this double threat and enforced isolation affect their mental health? 

Solitary confinement is being used instead of actual medical treatment for people with COVID-19 symptoms. An Unlock the Box report indicates a 500 percent increase in its use during the pandemic. According to Mumia Abu-Jamal, these kinds of solitary states during the lock-down “have become new death rows.” 

Image by Rocco Fazzari, 2019. (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.)

This is only the tip of the iceberg of the violations of human dignity wrought by solitary confinement. That is why it is crucial for us to amplify the voices of those who have faced the reality of solitary confinement. Every time that someone turns on the radio and hear a commentary from someone inside, we strike a blow against solitary.

Help us to continue broadcasting the voices of those inside. Join us today.

Fatema Meamari
Staff Member Prison Radio