LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)—Daniel Jones spent more than two decades locked away for taking another man’s life. It’s a sentence that found him spending many of his days alone, in solitary confinement.
“The best word I could use to describe it is torturous,” said Jones. “The smells, the urine and feces and all over the wall, blood, writings on the wall, you can feel the pain and sense it like it’s part of the cell.”
Today he’s working to fight for prisoners’ rights as a coordinator for the Michigan Collaborative to End Mass Incarceration. Part of his goal is to raise awareness on how spending so much time in isolation can affect someone’s wellbeing.
“There are substitutes, and things that could be done that would deter a person from having to spend months and even years in isolation.”
There are currently more than 3,000 people serving time in isolation in Michigan prisons, and another 10,000 inmates in the state dealing with some sort of mental health issue. Lois Pullano wants to be part of the solution. She’s coordinating the ‘Open MI Door’ campaign to create resources for families at home and people living behind bars.
“We want programming offered for everyone. This will keep people out of solitary confinement and that ultimately is what the ultimate MI Door Campaign is working to do,” said Pullano.
Today, they even gave people a chance to see what it looks and feel like to sit in a cell alone through virtual reality. Advocates say there is currently no time limit to confinement, something other states have.
“We think that Michigan can do better,” said Pullano.
Jones says he hopes the awareness being raised allows the system to look them as human beings.
“Really just giving hope to people like myself who were sentenced to life and to see some light at the end of the road.”