The evidence for the above claim lies is in the way we treat people for even minor offenses.
An inmate who spent 22 years in solitary confinement in an Illinois prison after being arrested for stealing a hat and a dollar bill is campaigning for legislation to end a practice that he says drove him to self-mutilation and a suicide attempt.
Anthony Gay said he was “tortured for decades” by his isolation for up to 24 hours a day in a cold, tiny cell he likened to a dungeon, and was denied access to necessary mental health care.
Gay was first arrested for robbery in 1994 for his involvement in a street fight, in which he stole a hat and $1 from another participant. A subsequent probation violation put him back in jail, and a violent altercation with another inmate landed him in solitary confinement.
From there, Gay said, things snowballed. He was resentenced to seven years for the original robbery charge and reacted badly to the solitary confinement, resulting in more time alone.
“I would cut on myself, I would act out, throw urine, liquids,” he said. “They would extend my time and things of that sort instead of allowing me to see mental health [professionals] and taking it as a health concern.”
That, he said, led to the “psychological torture” of 24-hour solo incarceration, with occasional breaks of no more than one hour.
“It’s dark and it’s cold as a dungeon, psychologically anyway,” he said. “The light is dim in the room, it just seemed like the walls are caving in.”
Who can blame someone for acting out and becoming suicidal when they are tortured like this? It would drive anyone insane.