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 […]

Voices from Solitary: Washington Cell Extraction

The following was sent to Solitary Watch from an inmate in Washington. He describes a recent “cell extraction”–the forcible removal of a prisoner from his cell–which he witnessed in a solitary confinement “Intensive Management Unit.” He discusses the use of cell extractions in relation to the claim by corrections officials that such actions are necessary for the safety of […]

Oregon Converts Supermax Unit to Treat Prisoners With Mental Illness

A reader recently called our attention to an article that appeared back in April in the Salem (Oregon) Statesman Journal, titled “Oregon State Penitentiary Adapts to Mental Illness.”   According to the Oregon Department of Corrections, about half of the state’s 14,000 prisoners— 6,797—are mentally ill. This is ten times greater than the population of the state’s primary psychiatric […]