HOW ARE YOU USING YOUR TIME
60 Days In Solitary Confinement At A Women's Prison
By Annie Brown | Illustrations by Dolly Li
In 2013, I met a woman who’d spent two years in solitary confinement. Her words rattled me
In 2013, I met a woman who’d spent two years in solitary confinement. Her words rattled me. She told me, “You’re not going to get it. You think you get it, but you don’t, and it’s so much worse than you imagine.” I certainly didn’t get it — but I wanted to get it, or to come as close to getting it as possible.
Solitary confinement is used in prisons, jails and even immigration detention centers to keep the population in line. Without the threat of solitary to deter bad behavior, correctional officers say they are nervous they will lose control of a violent population. But its psychological effects are well-documented. People in solitary get paranoid, hypersensitive. They can have panic attacks, breaks with reality, suicidal thoughts.
The deficit in research on women in solitary confinement is upsetting but unsurprising. For many of us, our authority on women in prison is Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black. The media isn’t helping much either, with spotty coverage, at best, of incarcerated women. On one hand, this makes some sense — women only make up 7% of the prison population. But in New York state prisons alone, 1,600 women are admitted to solitary confinement every year.
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