-- profound despair and hopelessness;
-- suicidal thoughts;
-- paranoia; and
-- for many, a totally dysfunctional state and inability ever to live normally outside of confinement.
Prisoner anecdotes describe the experience, saying:
-- "People come here with a few problems and leave sociopaths;"
-- You're like a "caged animal. I've seen people just crack and either scream for hours on end or cry."
-- Isolation "creates monsters (who) want revenge on society."
-- We "have a sense of hopelessness. Plus my anger (is) a silent rage....I am beginning to really hate people."
-- "They....try to break a person down mentally (and) mental abuse leaves no evidence behind (like) physical abuse."
-- Others say it's like being buried alive or living in a tomb.
When long-term, it often causes irreversible psychological trauma and harm, a condition no society should inflict on anyone, nor should lawmakers allow it.
That's why forced isolation violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Torture Convention, and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. In 1995, the UN Human Rights Committee called long-term prison isolation incompatible with international standards, and in 1996, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment agreed.
Isolating inmates long enough in windowless cells 23 hours a day causes madness. Even the strongest-willed break. Try it in a windowless room for 24 hours with enough food and water for one day. Imagine the desperation to get out. Then imagine it for many years or life.
Institutionalized long-term isolation, in fact, causes more mental illness than everyone in psychiatric hospitals combined. It makes healthy inmates sick, so disturbed they sometimes boil over in rage, explaining they can't contain it no matter how severely punished.