I’m watching a good movie, Otherlife, and the main character spends several months in solitary confinement. That part was rough for me to watch thanks to the issues I now have about that.

It occurs to me that a very scary novel could be written about solitary confinement. Just the endless days stretching into each other while the mind feeds on itself.

I don’t know if I could stand to write it, though. I might give myself nightmares just from the plotbunny.





I honestly believe the whole “adults require less sleep” thing is honest to god probably a myth created by capitalism

It is.

i honestly believe that sleep deprivation is the biggest ignored/neglected root cause of health dangers that prematurely kill adults

ask me sometime about the role of sleep in the leptin ghrelin cycle and how its interruption destabilizes weight homeostasis

or about the new research showing that heart disease is not caused by fat, like we thought for years, but by inflammation in the circulatory system whose root cause is unknown but one of the prime suspects is, you guessed it, sleep deprivation

but nobody wants to hear that lack of sleep is killing people. employers don’t want to hear it. and god knows that having sold their waking hours to capitalism to survive workers don’t want to lose the only time they have left to them to live their lives, mostly stolen from sleep

i mean even i don’t want to do anything about it and i love  sleep, i just love overwatch more

this this this this this

our society places almost zero value on sleep

on enough sleep

on uninterrupted sleep

on regular, predictable, cycling sleep

all the evidence we have suggests sleep is really, really, really important to the processes of the human body, including both mental and physical health, and yet when was the last time you heard somebody suggest that people had a *right* to sufficient, regular sleep?

Reminder that 

– Humans are not meant to sleep for extended periods of uninterrupted sleep. 

By this I don’t mean “humans shouldn’t have 8+ hours of sleep a night”; I mean that we are supposed to sleep for four to five hours (ish), then get up and do something relaxing like reading for a half hour to an hour, then get another bout of four to five hours. This is what our bodies were designed for. 

Sleeping the whole night through was a fad started with the advent of the lightbulb. Sleeping the whole night through is so recent (and artificial) that First Sleep and Second Sleep are mentioned in Dickens’ novels.

– Lack of sleep for even a single night severely compromises your immune system.

If you’re planning on getting little sleep or pulling an all-nighter, make sure to eat lots of fruit and veggies/take vitamins that day. Or even better, get yourself some bee propolis. It’s a natural remedy used for thousands of years in Latin America and is insanely good for boosting up compromised immune systems (if you get the drop kind, put 3 to 4 drops in a spoonful of honey and mix well with a 2nd spoon to mask the strong taste). It has no side effects and is all but impossible to overdose on.

– According to several government bodies around the world, chronic lack of sleep is literally tied for 1st place as the worst kind of torture (the other is solitary isolation)

– Expecting a teen to get up for 8:30 classes is the equivalent of expecting an adult to be at work at 4 am.

After babies, teens are the age group that needs the most amount of sleep. Puberty is exhausting, and the body needs time to recharge. Ideally, a teen should be getting between 10 to 12 hours of sleep at the bare minimum. Most teens are lucky if they manage to get 8. And that’s a gigantic problem; not only does lack of sleep affect mood (which is extra significant when your hormones are already riding a rollercoaster to begin with), but also has massive effects on growth, which is kinda what the whole puberty thing is supposed to be about.

– According to research “starting work before 10 a.m. is tantamount to torture and is making staff sick and stressed”

– Humans were not designed to have the same sleep cycle across the species. Much the opposite in fact.

Night owls and morning people are an actual thing. Because we’re pack creatures, Nature came up with a clever way for our ancestors to always have someone on the lookout for predators and threats: make people naturally alert at varying times so that there’s always someone alert to keep watch. 

Forcing night owls to follow morning people’s sleep cycle means night owls live with what researchers have referred to as “permanent jetlag”.

As Christmas is celebrated in Incarceration Nation, it’s worth remembering certain things about the two figures who dominate this holiday.

As nearly 3,000 Americans sit on death row, Christians revere the birth of a man who was arrested, “tried,” sentenced, and put to death by the state. The Passion is the story of an execution, and the Stations of the Cross trace the path of a Dead Man Walking.

Less well known is the fact that Saint Nicholas, the early Christian saint who inspired Santa Claus, was once incarcerated, like nearly 2.2 million people in the United States today. Though he was beloved for his kindness and generosity, Nicholas acquired sainthood not only by giving alms, but by performing a miracle that more or less amounted to a prison break.

Nicholas was the 4th-century Greek Bishop of Myra (in present-day Turkey). Under the Roman emperor Diocletian, who persecuted Christians, Nicholas spent some five years in prison–and according to some accounts, in solitary confinement.

Under Constantine, the first Christian emperor, Nicholas fared better up until the Council of Nicaea, in 325 A.D. There, after having a serious theological argument with another powerful bishop, Nicholas became so enraged that he walked across the room and slapped the man.

It was illegal for one bishop to strike another. According to an account provided by the St. Nicholas Center: “The bishops stripped Nicholas of his bishop’s garments, chained him, and threw him into jail. That would keep Nicholas away from the meeting. When the Council ended a final decision would be made about his future.”

According to the account, Nicholas spent the night praying for guidance, and Jesus and Mary both appeared to him. “When the jailer came in the morning, he found the chains loose on the floor and Nicholas dressed in bishop’s robes, quietly reading the Scriptures.” It was determined that no one could have visited or helped him during the night. Constantine ordered Nicholas freed and reinstated as the Bishop of Myra, and his feat would later be declared one of many miracles performed by the saint.

Saint Nicholas lived on to serve the poor during the devastating famine that hit his part of Turkey in 342 AD. He is reported to have anonymously visited starving families at night and distributed gold coins to help them buy scarce food.

Here in the United States nearly two thousand years later, Christians go to church to worship an executed savior and shop to commemorate an incarcerated saint. And few give much thought to their compatriots who are spending this Christmas behind bars.

Santa Was in Solitary and Jesus Got the Death Penalty

Imagine row after row of cell doors that rarely open and row after row of people trapped behind those doors, in small cells, day after day. Imagine having to hold most of your conversations by shouting through your cell door at voices whose faces you cannot see; imagine trying to sleep as a cacophony of other voices continue shouting around you.

This is the reality inside Southport Correctional Facility, New York’s first supermax prison. Located four hours west of New York City near the Pennsylvania border, Southport holds roughly 350 people in Special Housing Units (SHUs), or specially-designed solitary confinement units, on any given day. These 350 people spend at least 23 hours each day alone in their cells with little to no human interaction or programming to engage their minds.

New York Supermax

• One of the Angola 3, Albert Woodfox, who served the longest stretch in solitary confinement documented in the United States of 43 years and 10 months, discussed on Love + Radio his experience as a Black man in society, in the Louisiana prison system, and in solitary: “The thing about pain is it’s always fresh. No matter how long between the time you experience the pain and every time you talk about it.” Woodfox recalled the history leading up to his four decades in isolation, his resistance against abuse and racism within the prison system, his experience of grieving while in solitary, and his ultimate release.

• The NY Daily News reported that the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) has paid out $7 million in the past two and a half years to settle 127 lawsuits brought by incarcerated individuals or prison staff. In one settlement, DOCCS agreed to pay $800,000 to Richard Pattiasina, who claimed in a federal lawsuit that a prison officer at Elmira Correctional Facility physically assaulted him to the point of breaking his testicle, after which he was placed in solitary confinement without medical assistance for seven days. The $7 million payout includes more than $1 million to the New York Civil Liberties Union to settle a class action lawsuit that resulted in the agreement to incrementally reduce the use of solitary confinement.

• Alameda County Supervisors met with representatives from the County Sheriff’s Office to address the grievances of incarcerated individuals who held a five-day hunger strike last month at Glenn E. Dyer Detention Facility in Oakland. Their demands include an end to solitary confinement. While Sheriff’s Captain Dave Blachard claimed that individuals are not held in “indefinite solitary confinement” at the Glenn Dyer facility, the East Bay Times reported that, in response to a question regarding the length of stays in isolation at the facility, Blanchard answered, “It could be a week, three weeks, three months or three years.” He later said he misspoke.

• Common Dreams published a letter from Ifoma Modibo Kambon to author Cynthia Kaufman, reflecting on his 38 years in solitary confinement in California’s Security Housing Units (SHUs). Kambon describes the conditions and psychological effects of prolonged solitary that he himself felt himself and that he observed in other incarcerated people.

• Voice of San Diego reported the Citizen’s Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) in San Diego is recommending the dismissal of 22 investigations into deaths of individuals in the custody of the county or in county detention facilities. The board claims that a section of the California Public Safety Officers Bill of Rights prevents punitive action against officers if the investigation doesn’t meet a one year deadline. Others dispute this interpretation and argue that the dismissals allow officers to operate with impunity and will lead to more deaths in the future. Under investigation were cases resulting in serious lawsuits against the county for officer misconduct or negligent mental health care in the detention facilities, including the suicide of a father of three who had been diagnosed with a serious mental illness, one day after he was placed in solitary confinement. Former San Jose police auditor Barbara Attard commented, “To just wholesale close cases, I’ve never seen an agency do that.”

• The Marshall Project, in collaboration with VICE, published the writing of Dwayne Hurd, who is serving a sentence of 32 years to life for second degree murder. Hurd described the experience of mourning his grandfather’s death, among those of several other members of his family, in his solitary confinement cell at the maximum security Great Meadows Correctional Facility in upstate New York.

• The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reports that in response to pleas for protection from discrimination, transgender woman Jules Williams received further harassment from prison guards at the Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh, who called her “faggot” and “freak show.” Williams says she was forced to shower in front of incarcerated men and was placed in an isolation cell, where she was repeatedly raped by her male cellmate. Despite the mandate of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) to assign transgender individuals to the male or female housing based on “serious consideration” of where they would be safest, the ACLU claims that many jails and prisons around the country have failed to fulfill this mandate, subjecting transgender individuals to abuse and assault.

• Teen Vogue reported the story of Jaki Murillo, who was first arrested when she was 9 years old for threatening a teacher, eventually ending up in Los Angeles juvenile detention hall at 12, where she was placed in solitary confinement because she was under 14. While she was allegedly isolated for her own protection, Murillo said that more than a year in solitary had left lasting effects on her personality and psyche. California Congress Member Tony Cárdenas has introduced the Protecting Youth from Solitary Confinement Act (H.R. 1926) in an attempt to solidify a federal ban on youth solitary put in place by President Obama, and worries about the ultimate fate of the resolution in the hands of Donald Trump. “We need to stop being the only [member country of the United Nations] that does solitary for minors,” Cárdenas said. Obama’s directive is limited to federal prisons, and would not affect state prisons and local jails like the one where Jaki Murillo was held in isolation.

• According to TXK Today, Billy Joel Tracy, a man imprisoned in Texas for assault and burglary, now faces a potential death sentence for the killing a correctional officer at the Barry Telford Unit in New Boston, Texas. His defense introduced testimony from neuroradiologist Travis Snyder that Tracy possesses abnormalities in the part of his brain that controls emotions and inhibitions, as well as testimony from forensic psychologist Mark Cunningham that solitary confinement, which Tracy has been subjected to since 2005, causes individuals mental and emotional suffering, and leads them to develop a “trench warfare” attitude and to “become a savage or sink into despair.”

Seven Days in Solitary [11/12/17]

In an article in The Conversation, a clinical psychologist who has conducted neuroscience research in a Connecticut state prison points out that solitary confinement “can lead to hallucinations, fantasies and paranoia; it can increase anxiety, depression and apathy as well as difficulties in thinking concentrating, remembering, paying attention and controlling impulses,” which not only lessen the chances of individuals reaching any level of rehabilitation, but also increase the level of danger for those managing them. As an alternative to solitary confinement, the author explains that neuroscience has the ability to understand some of the most complex and dysfunctional behavioral problems, and to suggest ways to improve behavior through personalized psychological treatment.

• Following the filing of a lawsuit last week by children held in solitary confinement at Kings County Regional Justice Center in King County, Washington, King County Councilman Rob Dembowski introduced new legislation that would prohibit the use of solitary for juveniles and increase the standard of education and therapeutic services at the jail. Dembowski told The Kent Reporter, “Justice-involved youth will come out of the system and return to our society. I believe that we should do what we can to support them as productive members of our community.”

• VICE News reported that Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, held in the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan on charges of leading the Sinaloa cartel, has demonstrated symptoms of mental deterioration from the time he has spent in solitary confinement in the U.S., according to his lawyer. The lawyer argues that the extreme isolation caused by the “Special Administrative Measures” that the government asserts are necessary to prevent his escape have led to memory loss, “auditory hallucinations,” “paranoia,” and “depression” as well as “constant headaches, ringing in his ears and throat pain.” Guzmán’s lawyer claims without treatment, his mental state may eventually decline into incompetence, preventing him from standing trial.

• A group of prison officials from over a dozen states have been taking trips to prisons in Norway, Germany, and the Netherlands, in a project organized by the Prison Law Office and the Vera Institute of Justice. The visits have inspired officials in several states to begin moving towards a more rehabilitative approach, with the aim of better preparing incarcerated individuals for re-entering society. An article in The Marshall Project depicts examples of such modifications, including a reduction in both Rhode Island and North Dakota’s use of solitary confinement, a mentorship program in a Connecticut facility, and a retreat for families of incarcerated individuals in Idaho. While a culture of punishment still dominates U.S. prisons, some officials are beginning to recognize “that in the U.S., as in Europe, most prisoners will return home,” says onie organizer of the trips. “If they are not rehabilitated by then, they may commit more crimes, and Europeans understand this far better than Americans.”

• At Lincoln Hills School in Irma, Wisconsin, Department of Corrections (DOC) officials continue to use pepper spray and solitary confinement against the youth held in the facility, despite a court order in July from Judge James Peterson to eliminate or significantly reduce the use of both practices. The Wisconsin State Journal reported that DOC officials cited a recent increase in “unrest” among the youth at the facility as the reason for not complying with the court order, though a recent report from state attorneys has documented that lessening the length of solitary confinement stays at the facility has resulted in “fewer combative incidents that typically require pepper spray.”

Seven Days in Solitary [11/5/17]