10.31.13 – 2:56 PM
On Soul-Killing Solitary
Belatedly, inadequately, the issue of solitary confinement has been seeping into the news – with the Pelican Bay hunger strikes, the story of Henry Wallace and the Angola Three, the willingness of the U.N. to declare such long-term isolation – from time, touch, speech, light, all human contact – torture, and legislative attempts to curb it.
More searing testimony from Five Omar Mualimm-ak, a prison reform activist who served almost 12 years in prison, over five of them in solitary, “out of sight and invisible to other human beings – and eventually, even to myself,” for “offenses” like having too many postage stamps, eating all an apple, or not eating enough – “refusing to eat.”
“Yet neither a judge nor a jury of my peers handed down this sentence to me. Each of the tormented 23 hours per day that I spent in a bathroom-sized room, without any contact with the outside world, was determined by prison staff…
I never committed one act of violence during my entire sentence. Instead, a series of “tickets”, or disciplinary write-ups for prison rule violations, were punished with a total of more than five years in “the box”.
I was starving for lack of nutrition. I received a ticket for eating the core, since apple seeds contain arsenic, as spelled out in the prison handbook. The next time I received an apple, fearful of another ticket, I simply left it on the tray. I received a ticket for “refusing to eat.”
- I Spent 5 Years in Solitary For Non-Violent, Absurd Infractions Like Having Too Many Postage Stamps (alternet.org)
- Me, I Have to Live | Common Dreams (inprisonedwomen.wordpress.com)
- Me, I Have to Live | Common Dreams (incaseofinnocence.wordpress.com)
- Solitary confinement’s invisible scars | Five Omar Mualimm-ak (theguardian.com)
- On The Availability of Guns and the Eagerness to Hate | Common Dreams (inprisonedwomen.wordpress.com)
- Guantánamo Bay: The Hunger Strikes – Video Animation | Common Dreams (inprisonedwomen.wordpress.com)
- Voices from Solitary: Solitary Confinement’s Invisible Scars (solitarywatch.com)
- On The Availability of Guns and the Eagerness to Hate | Common Dreams (childreninshadow.wordpress.com)
- “i Am Free. I Am Free”. Herman Wallace Dies in Freedom – Just Days After Release! (inprisonedwomen.wordpress.com)