Focal Topic

I would like to explore the topic of ending solitary confinement in prisons. I am interested in this because of the psychological effects it has on prisoners. Some prisoners suffer from depression, anxiety, paranoia, schizophrenia, and other mental disorders. We are inherently social beings, so being locked in cages let alone cages alone by oneself can be detrimental to one’s mental health. I know there are several organizations out there doing this type of work, so I could get substantial research from them backing up claims of the severe mental health issues of solitary confinement. Also, I’d like to learn more about the topic as well and help others learn about it because it can pull on people’s heartstrings to maybe where they’ll make a difference. I feel like I can get good visual and auditory material for this project that will strike people’s emotions, for example, someone in a prison cell, the sound of prison doors closing, the emotion of prisoners’ faces, and the sound of a prison toilet flushing. I will try to show how small the size of a solitary confinement room is as well through visual representation. As of now I know a few organizations talking about this, including prison abolitionist groups and the Catholic Mobilizing Network. When people are put in solitary confinement, not only does it affect their lives personally, but it also affects other prisoners mentally, prison guards, prisoners’ families, friends, and greater networks of people. If by doing this project I can get people to empathize with prisoners and the horrific complex and conditions they are living in, I will have done my job. Hopefully it will spark change in people. That is my hope. Regardless if it does or not spark this hope, I am sure it will spark change in me. I will learn more, gain more knowledge on the subject and relay it to others. Who knows…Maybe it will make a difference.  I hope it will touch people who have not thought about the idea of solitary confinement much or those who are for having solitary confinement. As I have learned in this class and others, seeing other sides of arguments can not only strengthen my own argument but it can also help me learn more about other perspectives, so I hope others in my class will take advantage of the learning opportunity I am bringing to the table. Mostly, I think my projects will be catered towards those who already know a little about solitary confinement but want to learn more. I also think its audience should be those who have not even thought about it. Once I get people thinking, who knows what they may do. I think the United States can learn from other countries in terms of the use of solitary confinements in prisons. For example, in Sweden, unlike the United States, rather than punishing their prisoners, Sweden actually rehabilitates theirs. When solitary confinement is in play, the idea of rehabilitation is slim, especially in US prisons where prisoners really are not even rehabilitated. When put in solitary, prisoners can suffer from harmful mental illness that traps them for the rest of their lives. Generally, the health factor in prisons is low, but I believe solitary confinement on top of that is repulsive.

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