The Consequences of Confinement

Imagine living in an 8×10, without anyone to communicate with, no sense of time, no natural light, no interactions. Now imagine doing that for a consecutive amount of days while at the same time receiving terrible food, terrible treatment, and supervised showers and trips to the bathroom. This is the life inside of solitary confinement as an inmate.


Life for many prisoners in solitary confinement is a day-to-day struggle.

Being incarcerated puts you in a role where you become a whole new person to the eyes of everyone else, you take on a new “costume.” Being an inmate already strips you so greatly of your human rights and value, but solitary confinement is something that takes this one step further. 

Solitary confinement is meant to be seen as a “punishment” for the wrongdoings of inmates that are perceived “bad enough” to go to this place. It is seen almost like a timeout if you do something wrong. When guards want to keep order, this is what they tend to dangle over their heads as a punishment. People know how terrible it is, and it is because of this that the guards feel they can have such power over the inmates.  Now where this becomes even a bigger issue is how often guards will place inmates in there for extremely long periods of time, even without any particular reason. It becomes something guards tend to do when they want to punish the inmates or show them who truly has power.

Putting people in such terrible circumstances all alone for periods of time has a lasting effect on a person, any human would be affected by the seclusion and treatment, yet it gets thrown around like nothing, like something simple to give a “punishment” for their actions. Does it really make sense to cause someone lasting effects simply from one action they have done? 

Santino Nichols ‘23 says, “I have seen first-hand the effects that incarceration has on people, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if solitary confinement was also involved. 

Guards do not go to solitary confinement, they have no clue what it feels like to be there or the effects it can have on people who spend time there. Yet they still send countless amounts of inmates in there with no regard of what it may be doing to them. 

All over the United States people are seeing that solitary confinement of incarcerated people is ineffective and a very inhumane practice to be done on them. According to the Southern Poverty Law center, numerous studies have shown the clear connection between solitary confinement and a person’s mental and  physical well being. Not only do these studies show that they affect the people that are put into solitary confinement, but the community in which they will return to. It has been shown that inmates who spend time in solitary confinement not only are more prone to suffer with mental health issues but also tend to return committing more crimes, which completely reverses the purpose of what jail is supposed to do. Being put in these situations does nothing but worsen the situation. 

Yalda Navab ‘23 thinks, “Many people going into solitary confinement already have mental health issues, and being completely isolated has actually proven to worsen and even create these mental health issues.” 

Seeing these circumstances, lawmakers had hoped they would be able to make a change to this with a bill that would have limited solitary confinement in California to no more than 15 consecutive days, and no more than 45 days out of 180, this bill would be called the “California Mandela Act.” 

Unfortunately, this was not enough to get Governor Gavin Newsom to pass this bill, he rejected this legislation that would have made a good difference in the criminal justice system relating to solitary confinement. Recently at the end of September, there was a chance to make a huge change to this, there was a chance to notice these inhuman behaviors and do something about it. 

This act would have been a good compromise, it did not completely disregard and take away solitary confinement, it would limit it to something that is at least a good next step to equal treatment within the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, we could not even take this first step. With this option up in the air, Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed this legislation, leaving us at the same place as we were. 

We are clearly aware of the issues at hand with solitary confinement, and the whole criminal justice system in general, all it is missing is the power to actually address these issues and make the change that needs to be made, and hopefully it will be soon.