Solitary Overused, Harmful in Prison, Advocates Say

Former inmate Jose Bou remembers the anxiety of solitary confinement as being so powerful that when he finally stepped out of his cell, he felt “like a rubber band pulled tight . . . ready to snap.”

A decade ago, the now 37-year-old Bou was serving time in a maximum-security prison after being convicted on drug charges. He remained there for two years, confined to his cell 21 hours a day.

….Massachusetts is one of two states (the other is Arkansas) where an inmate can be sentenced to solitary confinement for up to 10 years.

….Stuart Grassian, a Massachusetts psychiatrist, said confinement exacerbates suffering for the mentally ill and can cause previously healthy inmates to become psychotic.

“Environmental deprivation has a profound, deleterious effect on mental function,” he said.

By Alyssa A. Botelho, Boston Globe

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