A new editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal declaring solitary confinement as “cruel and unusual punishment” is no surprise to former Toronto Police Sergeant (and former prisoner) Donald Best, who describes his time in solitary confinement as “brutal”.
The Canadian Medical Association editorial says:
“Is this acceptable practice or is this torture?
Solitary confinement, defined as physical isolation for 22 to 24 hours per day and termed “administrative segregation” in federal prisons, has substantial health effects. These effects may develop within a few days and increase the longer segregation lasts.
Anxiety, depression and anger commonly occur. Isolated prisoners have difficulty separating reality from their own thoughts, which may lead to confused thought processes, perceptual distortions, paranoia and psychosis.
In addition to the worsening of pre-existing medical conditions, offenders may experience physical effects, such as lethargy, insomnia, palpitations and anorexia.”
From the Canadian Medical Association Journal editorial, November 17, 2014: Cruel and usual punishment: solitary confinement in Canadian prisons (website article)
Alternative: Download the CMAJ editorial as a PDF 74kb
National Post: Solitary confinement is ‘cruel and usual punishment’
Mr. Best does not easily speak of his time in ‘the hole’. He says that he witnessed terrible events in the ‘Administrative Segregation Unit’ as solitary is euphemistically named by prison authorities. Best saw things he had never before seen or even imagined; despite his 35+ years in public and private law enforcement and as a deep-cover investigator against organized crime. He saw prisoners eating their own faeces and worse.
The Canadian Medical Association editorial says that solitary confinement “has substantial health effects” and worsens pre-existing medical conditions. Best knows this to be true from firsthand experience. Read more