Solitary Overused, Harmful in Prison, Advocates Say

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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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