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Opinion >  Letters

Solitary confinement is inhumane

Particularly after our lonely year of isolation, I was struck by an article about a man depicting the imposement of solitary confinement for more than five years in the U.S. prison system.

Armed with a master’s degree in developmental psychology, I served as executive director of a hospitals-supported nonprofit that treated child victims of crime and their families. Those children and family members, referred to us by law enforcement and the child welfare agency, had experienced trauma that usually started in the first five year of life.

I told my board that they needed to nurture me, so I could nurture the supervisors, so they could nurture the clinicians who could nurture the parents who could then nurture their children.

That’s what works! Not punishment, not isolation, but connectedness, belonging, and caring. Finland has learned this lesson in its prison system. There, a prison sentence is an opportunity to learn job and social skills to return as a productive community member.

In the US prison system, solitary confinement may occur for years, not days.

What on earth are we doing?

Mary Ann Murphy

Spokane


 

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