Those advocating change for prisoners on the inside, are trying to make change on the outside.
Citizens for Prison Reform (CPR) held its 11th legislative education day on May 9 at the Capitol.
They say conditions in solitary confinement are much worse than we all think, and they are presenting policy changes to lawmakers that supporters say will give prisoners humanitarian rights.
“Solitary confinement is torture, and our longest-serving person in solitary has been there for 46 years,” said advocate Jack Williams, program director at Zealous.
Organizers staged a mock solitary cell for those attending to walk through.
CPR says more than 3,000 Michigan inmates annually serve time in solitary confinement, where they spend up to 23 hours a day.
People with loved ones on the inside say they deal with deplorable conditions and even mental abuse, causing them to never be the same–or to lose their lives.
When Barbara Fair’s son was 16, he served a few months in solitary confinement in Connecticut. Now he’s 40.
“I never got my son back; I got a replica of the man who went inside,” Fair said.
“He suffered a lifetime of consequences of being put in there.”
Advocates like these presented bills to help reduce trauma in segregation, like access to medical professionals, earned time off sentences, and rehabilitation.
They also want to create a corrections oversight commission.
Danielle Dunn’s brother died in Alger Correctional Facility in 2019, after having served two months in isolation.
“He began to whisper and say to me, ‘I’m going to die in here,'” said Dunn.
He lost 51 pounds within a few weeks, and shortly after that call with his sister, he was found dead.
“You have no idea–everyday is a struggle, mentally,” Dunn said.
Dunn says she hopes that stories like her brother’s won’t happen to another person.
“I will never quit until I see justice,” she said.