Wednesday, October 7, 2015

2015 What does Solitary Confinement reveal about our Relationship to Conflict?

solitary confinement is an interesting phenomenon in our current world because it is an example which shows us very interesting points and truths about how we as a human collective exist.

Here's what wikipedia has to say about solitary confinement:

Solitary confinement is a form of imprisonment in which an inmate is isolated from any human contact, though often with the exception of members of prison staff. It is sometimes employed as a form of punishment beyond incarceration for a prisoner and has been cited as an additional measure of protection for the inmate. This form of punishment is also given for violations of prison regulations. It is also used as a form of protective custody and to prevent in the case of suicide, restriction from items that could disrupt the prisoners health.

Reading this, you might go 'yeah, makes sense that they'd have to confine a prisoner for their own good or when they pose a threat to those around them', so this reason for why solitary confinement exists seems justified and valid.

However if you read between the lines of what this actually says about solitary confinement, then you'll see something like this:

Solitary confinement is a measure that is used as damage control because we as a society have not yet learned how to deal with the real problems that people face internally as well as in groups and relationships with others. Solitary confinement is like a teacher separating one kid from the rest of the class by putting that kid in the corner of the classroom with their head turned against the wall, or making them stand in the hallway for the duration of the class.
They do it because it is their 'last resort', because they don't know how to 'deal with' that kid or how to solve the problems that kid is facing within themselves internally and in their relationships with the other kids. Solitary confinement is proof that the human race has not learned a singular thing when it comes to conflict and how to resolve conflict, despite of all the practice and experience we've had with it throughout the ages.

 After all, what wikipedia also has to say about solitary confinement is that:
Research surrounding possible psychological and physiological effects of solitary confinement date back to the 1860s. Prison records from the Denmark institute during 1870-1920 indicate that staff noticed inmates were exhibiting signs of mental illnesses while in isolation, revealing that this persistent problem has been around for decades. The first comment by the Supreme Court of the United States about solitary confinement's effect on prisoner mental status was made in 1890 (In re Medley 134 U.S. 160). In it the court found that the use of solitary confinement produced reduced mental and physical capabilities

In other words, it has been established in the 1860's already that solitary confinement is not an actual solution and is actually more consequential because now you've got this person who was already having difficulties and experiencing conflict, coming out of solitary confinement even more mentally and emotionally (and possibly physically in some cases) broken. So that means that there is an even bigger chance of them posing a threat to themselves and society.

So the situation that we've now created is that there is a high chance that this individual will remain imprisoned for the rest of their lives or that they are released but then end up committing a crime again which lands them back into prison, because of the mental/emotional scars they've suffered during their time in prison.

Solitary confinement does not teach a person to respect themselves or the people around them. It does not assist them in any way to develop insight or understanding in relation to their crime, because the whole purpose of placing someone in solitary confinement is not education or assisting an individual to grow and learn. As wikipedia states, "It is sometimes employed as a form of punishment beyond incarceration for a prisoner and has been cited as an additional measure of protection for the inmate".

Punishment is not educational or supportive for the individual. Just like when a teacher decides to punish a child by placing it on a chair in the corner of the classroom, it isn't done with the best interest of the individual at heart because it is an act resulting from the experience of fear and powerlessness which the teacher is experiencing inside themselves in relation to this kid whom they 'don't know how to handle'.

Punishment is only something we do onto another when we don't know or understand how to handle the situation, when we in other words haven't educated ourselves enough to be equipped and skilled in resolving conflict or to at the very least have the ability to place ourselves in the other person's shoes.

As a closing statement for this blog I would like to say that solitary confinement is one of those things in our world that cast shame onto the existence of the human and the human potential. It is showing us ever so clearly that we have learned nothing from our past and that we are wasting so much of our own ability and potential to become truly great, as individuals and as a society. It is possible to manifest greatness and I believe that a first step would be to support a proposal like a Living Income guaranteed. Let's put an end to solitary confinement and find real solutions.

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