Solitary Confinement & Casual Cruelty

Josh H
7 min readJun 30, 2018

Torturing With Ignorance, Smiles, & Banal Indifference

Photo by Fabrice Villard on Unsplash

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I only spent a few days in solitary confinement myself.

Months before I accepted a plea bargain and served three years in State Prison in Michigan, I was arrested for the very first time and driven, in handcuffs, to the Macomb County Jail.

I had no idea what to expect and really only had television and movies as a guide to my immediate future.

When the officer at intake asked me if I was feeling depressed, I made the rookie mistake of admitting that I did indeed feel, “a little down.”

Within hours I was wearing what they call a “Bam-Bam Suit” and was taken to the jails psych unit (A Bam-Bam suit is a unique and bizarre kind of padded suit that — in theory — cannot be used by someone to commit suicide).

For the first day, I was kept in an all-glass observation cell but was lucky enough to be sharing the cell with several other inmates (some equally disoriented and others experienced).

Next door to us, in an adjacent plexiglass cell, was a woman strapped to a restraint chair while forced to wear a mask-like apparatus that prevented her from biting or spitting at the Correctional Officers.

She spent that entire night alternating between screaming and crying.

I felt like I had been moved to one of the circles of hell.

After that, I was moved into a solitary cell for about a day and a half.

A tiny room, one bunk, one all-metal toilet.

Barely wide enough for me to stand up and extend my arms out.

One door with a slot for the Correctional Officers to shove food trays through.

A small window at the end of the room, if I stood on my bunk and concentrated hard I could make out some of the town around the jail.

For the first time in my entire life I could not leave my room (except for one hour a day), had no access to entertainment or communications, and had no books or paper.

Josh H

Author, Criminal Justice Reform Advocate, Co-Host of the "Decarceration Nation" Podcast, Television critic and Movie Reviewer,