Rebecca Wallace of the ACLU asked me this last week to testify at the February 4th Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on solitary confinement for the mentally ill as they are working together to pass effective legislation that can keep the prisons safe but also prevent the torture of the mentally ill.
Ever since it became public policy to de-fund mental institutions in the United States, the mentally ill were increasingly placed in prisons. With an inability to behave or get along in the prison setting, they were moved to solitary confinement like areas even though long term isolation is known to worsen the symptoms of mental illness.
The Colorado Department of Corrections has became one of the worst at this and had over 50% of it’s solitary confinement population in need of serious mental health treatment that they weren’t providing. And not only were they not providing adequate treatment but they kept these mentally ill prisoners in solitary confinement for an average of 16 months and I stayed for 8 years.
So on February 4th, I get to address the State Senate regarding possible solutions and my experiences in solitary confinement in Colorado. This is the beginning of my fight but far from a victory. I’ll keep you updated as the it all unfolds.