Kupers, Dr. Terry — Solitary Confinement: Locked Away with No Human Contact

 

An estimated 100,000 people are held in solitary confinement in the United States.  The conditions in which they live are abysmal.  They have little or no human contact.   Often they are kept in dark, cold, wet cells eight feet by 10 feet in size. Many suffer from mental illness prior to or as a result of solitary confinement.  This results in significant long term damage to the individuals and our society as a whole.

Dr. Terry Allen Kupers, a forensic psychiatrist, is the author of “Solitary: The Inside Story of Supermax Isolation and How We Can Abolish It”. In this first of a two part series on solitary confinement, Kupers shares interviews with prisoners who have been raped, subdued with immobilizing gas, beaten by prison guards and whose mental and physical health needs have been ignored.  He has found that prisoners of color are much more likely to be held in solitary confinement than are white prisoners.  Kupers argues that solitary confinement is tantamount to torture, and per se violates the constitutional prohibition of cruel or unusual punishment.

When Dr. Terry Kupers and I visit by phone from his home in Oakland, California on February 11, 2018, we began the first of two conversations when I asked him to define forensic psychiatry, and the background of solitary confinement.

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Sullivan, Michael Gene Political Theater, Black Men and the Police

From the archives of Radio Curious:

Theatre as a commentary on the condition of society is the subject of this edition of Radio Curious.  The topic is the relationship of police and black men in America in 2015.  Our guest is Michael Gene Sullivan, the resident playwright, director and a principal actor in 2015: Freedomland,” this year’s production by the San Francisco Mime Troupe.

The first question and answer on the frequently asked questions page on the San Francisco Mime Troupe website is:  “Why do you call yourself a Mime Troupe if you talk and sing?”  The answer is:  “We use the term mime in its classical and original definition, ‘The exaggeration of daily life in story and song.’”

When Michael Gene Sullivan and I visited by phone from his home in San Francisco on June 29, 2015, I asked him if “2015: Freedomland” was an exaggeration of daily life in story and song from his perspective.

The book Michael Gene Sullivan recommends is “The Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Force,” by Redley Balko.

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