The "Vicious Cycles" Created by Solitary Confinement

In 1993, Dr. Stuart Grassian, following extensive interviews with men in California’s Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit (SHU), reported that extensive periods in solitary confinement lead to what he referred to as a “syndrome” particular to prison isolation units. Anxiety, ruminations, panic attacks, aggression, paranoia, and psychotic symptoms were observed as a consequence of […]

New Report Examines the Hardships of Life After Solitary Confinement

An important new report, released yesterday by the American Friends Service Committee in Arizona, is the first to focus on the effects solitary confinement has on its survivors afterthey leave prison. Lifetime in Lockdown: How Isolation Conditions Impact Prisoner Reentry, finds that spending time in solitary leaves people “deeply traumatized and essentially socially disabled.” These “crippling symptoms” combine with […]

Criminalizing Mental Illness

Yesterday, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) issued a compilation of staggering statistics on the criminalization of people with mental illness in the United States. As NAMI points out, “Over the past 20 years, state spending on correctional systems has increased 350 percent from $10 billion to $45 billion,” while the same states have cut […]