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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/19/10

Harmful Effects of Prolonged Isolated Confinement

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Harmful Effects of Prolonged Isolated Confinement - by Stephen Lendman


Terry Kupers is a practicing psychiatrist, an expert on long-term isolated prison confinement, author of numerous articles on the subject as well as his book titled, "Prison Madness: The Mental Health Crisis Behind Bars and What We Must Do About It." He's also a frequent expert witness in related cases, serves as a consultant, and is currently Institute Professor in the Graduate School of Psychology at Wright Institute, Berkeley, CA. More on his work below.


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Social scientists have studied the effects for years, social psychologist Hans Toch coining the term "isolation panic" to describe symptoms he observed in men he interviewed, including panic, rage, a sense of total loss of control, emotional breakdown, regressive behavior, and self-mutiliation. He distinguished between difficult but tolerable incarceration and intolerable long-term isolation.


An October 14, 2007 Scott Pelley's 60 Minutes report called Supermax prisons "A Clean Version of Hell," referring to the only federal one, the US Penitentiary Florence (ADMAX) Facility, Florence, Colorado, entirely a Supermax facility. He called it secretive, closed to the public, the media, and 60 Minutes only could approach the perimeter and be able to interview former warden Robert Hood, in charge from 2002 - 2005.

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He called it "the Harvard of the system....except that (its) ivory towers may be easier to get into." Allegedly, most inmates are too violent to be kept elsewhere, and over 40 (as of October 2007) were convicted "terrorists." Based on this writer's work, most, if not all, are innocent victims of police state justice.


Garrett Linderman was released. Pelly interviewed him and asked how it's different from other lockups. "Your connections to the outside. Your family. Through phone calls, visits, all those are pretty much stopped at the ADX. There's no comparison. It breaks down the human spirit. It breaks down the human psyche. It breaks your mind. (It's the) perfection of isolation, painted pretty." (They) perfected it there."


60 Minutes learned of an even higher confinement level inside, sort of an "ultramax" group of cells with virtually no human contact, not even with guards, housing only two prisoners considered so dangerous they're in "Range 13." One is Tommy Silverstein who killed a prison guard. The other is alleged World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef.

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According to Hood, Yousef is there because "He has that Charlie Manson look. He just has the eyes. He has some charisma about him. He's in uniform. But you know that there's a powerful person that you're looking at."


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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.
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