Some of you may have seen some recent newspaper stories that a federal judge is appointing a Special Master to oversee the Federal Correctional Institution for women in Dublin, California due to its “rampant sexual abuse” against its female inmates by prison guards and staff. And this abuse has continued even though a former prison warden and several officers were successfully prosecuted for these same problems. Furthermore, since it is our government, we have no one to blame for this abuse but ourselves!

Of course, there are many good things happening in our Great Country, but those should not close our eyes to other things that are on the other side of the ledger – particularly in our prisons. One of those is the practice of lengthy Solitary Confinement. What is that? It varies, but basically a prisoner is placed into a cell without the ability of seeing any other human being for at least 23 hours per day. And this condition often can last for a year or more! Frequently this happens with people who have mental illnesses – just get them out of the way. In my view, that constitutes torture. According to the book Inside the Walls of Alcatraz, by Frank Heaney, Alcatraz’s youngest guard, during the beginning years of that federal prison during the middle 1930s to early 1940s some of the “worst inmates” were kept in basement cells in complete darkness. And at times they were chained up against the wall. And, depending upon the severity of the incident and the inmate’s attitude, they could be kept down there for a few days and up to a week. That should never have happened in our country!

I have not heard of anything similar during the present time. But, in an article in the March 3, 2024 Orange County Register, the author, who is a psychiatrist named Dr. Terry Kupers, wrote:

“I examined 24 prisoners who had been in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison for over ten years (20 or 30 years in some cases), and found alarming symptoms and disabilities. While relatively stable prisoners (from a mental health perspective) who are placed in solitary confinement almost immediately experience severe anxiety or panic, great difficulty thinking and concentrating, memory loss, paranoia, despair, exacerbation of serious mental illness and many other symptoms, those who spend many years in solitary develop additional problems that will likely plague them for a lifetime and severely impair their capacity to function in the community after they are released.”

Yes, I understand that many times inmates swear, sneer or even spit or throw urine or feces at prison guards, and we all know that prison safety and discipline are critically important, but no one in the involuntary custody of We the People should be confined without being able to see fellow human beings for days if not months or years at a time. This really is torture, and It must not happen in our Great Country!

Motto of Hillsdale College: “Strength Rejoices in the Challenge.”

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.) Superior Court of Orange County, California 2012 Libertarian Candidate for Vice President

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