By Hope R. Amezquita, ACLU of Virginia Legal Counsel
Join us on Wednesday, July 9, 2014 for our weekly twitter chat for a discussion of the mental health effects of solitary confinement of women.
PrisonIn April 2014, the ACLU released a new report, Worse than Second-Class: Solitary Confinement of Women in the United States. The report reveals the unique and lesser known harmful effects of solitary confinement on women prisoners.
As I’ve written before, solitary confinement is an inhumane and counterproductive punishment. The devastating effects of solitary confinement of women prisoners have even been showcased on season two of the popular Netflix series, Orange is the New Black. Episode 1 begins with the lead character, Piper, disoriented and confused about her surroundings.   When correctional guards appear, she shows them the “art” she’s drawn on the wall using her breakfast eggs. She’s been in solitary confinement for some time and it’s apparent that her sanity is disappearing. There’s no mental health counselor there to help her before she’s thrown on a bus in the middle of the night and taken to another prison. The hit show’s character is based upon the real life experiences of Piper Kerman, who recently testified before Congress against the practice of solitary confinement and the harms it causes women in prison.
In recent years, several states have been sued for isolating seriously mentally ill prisoners for indefinite periods of time. States have introduced, and some have even passed, legislation and regulations that limit the use of solitary confinement especially for prisoners with serious mental illnesses and juveniles. A growing number of organizations and leaders, even top correctional officers, have condemned the practice as damaging to all prisoners and undermining rehabilitation. Join us on July 9 to learn more about the mental health issues affecting women in solitary confinement and to discuss how we can help protect their constitutional rights.
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