Reporting John Ostapkovich
By John Ostapkovich
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A panel of Pennsylvania State House Democrats heard testimony Tuesday, much of it disturbing, about the so-called “solitary confinement” of prisoners.
Solitary is called other things in the corrections field ( it’s refered to as “single cell-ing” in Pennsylvania), but many of those testifying before the Democratic Policy Committee said it is bad, maybe even torturous, expensive and so ineffective it often produces psychoses where none existed before.
Psychiatrist Terry Kupers says more than 100 years ago, the Supreme Court found that this practice produced less-functional inmates and some he has interviewed today describe it as a no-win situation…
“They keep getting re-sentenced to isolation so they have what I call ‘flat time.’ They have time in isolation with nothing they can do to alleviate their situation and nothing they can do that’s productive in their cell.”
University of California Santa Cruz psychologist Craig Haney says inmates in solitary can withdraw into themselves in a process he calls “a paradox.”
“Moving from initially being starved for social contact to eventually being disoriented and even frightened by it. As they become increasingly unfamiliar and uncomfortable with social interaction they become further alienated from others.”
Some go straight from isolation to release, which can be a recipe for repeat offense.
Much of the testimony on Tuesday was about other states.
The Pennsylvania Corrections Department did not testify at the hearing, but says single-celling is used under specific rules and circumstances.