An excerpt from Katherine Todrys article Fixing Solitary Confinement In New York State Prisons. Katherine profiled Victor Pate who spent almost two years. off and on, in solitary confinement in New York prisons, at times isolated for 90 days. Below is Victor Pate’s article.
Victor Pate: New York Statewide Organizer for the Campaign of Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC)
Solitary is torture and no one should be placed under those conditions. I consider myself a survivor of Solitary Confinement, for being able to function in society. I had spent a total of two years intermittently in Solitary, the longest period being 90-days. Often for rule infractions like too many sheets, not standing for the count, or disobeying a direct order (one of the favorites) and a host of other non-violent infractions. However, at no time did I deserve the harshness which resulted in me being placed in Solitary Confinement nor the further abuse endured at the hands of the guards assigned in Special Housing Unit (SHU).
My experience was one which changed me indefinitely, and I can truly say has affected the way I would behave around others in the future. Needless to say the damage never ever goes away and all it takes is a negative situation to occur for me to be transferred at that moment to a time being alone in a cell. Solitary is torture and no one should be placed under those conditions.
Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners U.N. Resolution -70/175 indicates no one should be held in long term Solitary Confinement past fifteen days. UN’s “Mandela Rules” to Set New International Limits on Solitary. In New York State Prisons and Jails currently there are up to four thousand people in some form of solitary confinement. At least one-thousand are in some form of cell lockdown alone (23 or 24 hours in their cell). The lack of mental stimuli causes psychological damage and the inability to have human and social interaction renders a person incapable of being sociable with others. Why Solitary Confinement Is The Worst Kind Of Psychological Torture.
The Campaign Against Long Term Isolated Confinement (CAIC) with the creation of the HALT Act A.3080A S.4784 is consistent with United Nations resolution concerning the minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners. This is why CAIC is so important to me.