On Soul-Killing Solitary | Common Dreams


On Soul-Killing Solitary | Common Dreams.

10.31.13 – 2:56 PM

On Soul-Killing Solitary

by Abby Zimet

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”.

In New York, guards give out tickets like penny candy… I received an endless stream of tickets, each one more absurd than the last….One day, I ate an entire apple – including the core – because

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.”


One thought on “On Soul-Killing Solitary | Common Dreams

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.