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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: In the Hole for 29 Years

     Robert King spent 29 years in solitary confinement in Louisiana. He has been free since 2001, but still has difficulty with geographical orientation….King joined researches and legal experts at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Chicago in February 2014 to talk about the mental and physical health consequences of solitary confinement….

     There are about 80,000 people being held in some sort of solitary type confinement in the United States….Prisoners in solitary confinement tend to be restricted to cells of 80 square feet, not much larger than a king-size bed. Sleeping, eating and defecating all take place inside that space. For exercise, prisoners in solitary confinement often get a short time in a cage rather than an outdoor yard--perhaps one hour per day….

     About one-third of people in solitary confinement in this country are mentally ill, although some prison systems do not permit mentally ill inmates to be placed in solitary confinement….

     Prison systems continue to struggle over what to do to resolve conflicts or stop violence or disruption of the institutions. They put more prisoners in solitary confinement and left them there for longer periods of time…

     King noticed six months into his time in solitary confinement that his eyesight significantly worsened--he thinks because his eyes had become acclimated to such short distances in his cell. Over time, he retrained his eyes so that he would not be so nearsighted….[Ronald King, a member of the Black Panther Party, was convicted in 1973 of killing a fellow inmate. Also, he was suspected of being part of a conspiracy that led to the murder of a prison guard.]

Elizabeth Landau, "Solitary Confinement: 29 Years in a Box," CNN, February 23, 2014 

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