What Solitary Confinement Does to the Brain

What Solitary Confinement Does to the Brain.

This article is necessary for librarians, educators, cases workers, and officers to read as we discuss the best services for those incarcerated, especially those in solitary confinement (often called segregation).

While at the book club I facilitate inside of a prison, some of the men stated that it was only in segregation did they read certain books, especially book series where you could spend an longer time with a set of characters and an on going plot.

We must prepare those incarcerated for being released with the skills we need. We must also meet the immediate needs of incarcerated patrons. As librarians we must provide the best services to our patrons that cannot physically come into the library. Patrons in segregation cannot be the exception.

When prisoners leave solitary confinement and re-enter society — something that often happens with no transition period — their symptoms might abate, but they’re unable to adjust. “I’ve called this the decimation of life skills,” said Kupers. “It destroys one’s capacity to relate socially, to work, to play, to hold a job or enjoy life.”…

Explaining why isolation is so damaging is complicated, but can be distilled to basic human needs for social interaction and sensory stimulation, along with a lack of the social reinforcement that prevents everyday concerns from snowballing into pychoses, said Kupers.

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Increased Access to the Law Library: 1 of many demands from the 29,000+ CA inmates on hunger strike

While solitary confinement is the focus of California’s hunger strike by inmates, access to the law library is among other demands:

law library demands

The list of demands can be seen on the LA Times website here. Read about the hunger strike in the LA Times’ article 29,000 California Prison Inmates Refuse Meals in 2nd Day of Protest.

Youth imprisoned at Green Hill prison are joining the hunger strike with their own demands. You can view their full list of demands here. Below are a few library specific demands:

3. EDUCATION: Provide relevant and specialized educational programs to all residents even after they have graduated from High School. These could include cosmetology, music/multimedia production, library access, law training, culinary arts, and more. There are plenty of rooms that are currently not being used for anything but storage. They should be used.

4. LEGAL ACCESS: Access to updated legal material, updated each year. This should include: A well-stocked law library in the school available to all, updated regularly. Books and resources available at anytime. Access to internet sites with relevant legal material available at all times. Access to resources detailing available legal counsel. Copies of JRA/DOC employee policy handbooks in every single wing for residents to read. These must be updated each year.

10. FREEDOM OF SPEECH: The 1st amendment must be respected in JRA/DOC facilities. We have a right to speak our mind and express ourselves with whatever language we choose as long it does not threaten others. We must also be free to organize without punishment.

If you are interested in following the hunger strike, here are two specific blogs to the strike:

http://prisonstrike.wordpress.com/

http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/