We are truly a barbaric nation

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.


  1. jrkrideau says

    Arrgh, we have a nasty prison system and some real horror stories but 22 years in solitary? Unfortunately given what I have read about Chelsea Manning and Maria Butina it sounds only too believable.

    I believe the UN rapporteur has termed solitary confinement to be torture.

  2. says

    Another example, from May 2, 2021:

    Ledell Lee was murdered by Arkansas (not “executed”) in 2017. DNA tests in 2021 prove he was innocent. This is why US states fight tooth and nail to prevent retesting of evidence of those wrongly convicted, both when they’re still alive in prison, but especially when they’re dead and those who put them there should be held accountable.


  3. Silentbob says

    That’s weird. How did I know this guy was black before I clicked on the link. :-/

  4. Silentbob says

    @ ^
    It occurs to me that comment could be misinterpreted. It’s snark referring to the relative injustice experienced by black people compared to white.

  5. jrkrideau says

    @ 3 Silentbob
    Reminds me of the old cartoon from one of the Montreal newspapers —It was dark, how did we know he was not black?

  6. jrkrideau says

    We are truly a barbaric nation


    Since I am Canadian I tend to remember Omar Khadr.
    Nothing like a plea bargain to get out of life-time imprisonment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *