The Impact of Solitary Confinement

Many years ago, the approach toward detention institutions, convicts, and punishment was severe and obnoxious. After a prolonged battle with the government, the principle of recognizing the human being in the convicted perpetrator has been approved. The socio-legal approach is based on peace, mutual respect, and individual human respect. If a person commits a crime, it does not follow that he stops to be a human being and can be denied those components of existence that constitute basic humanity.

Solitary confinement is a type of imprisonment in which an inmate is segregated from other inmates and subjected to strict observation. It has been proved that such confinement is traumatic and has a negative impact on the prisoner’s overall well-being both physically and mentally. Prisoners are kept in solitary confinement for a variety of reasons. When prisoners are kept in solitary confinement as a form of punishment for what is deemed excessive behavior, such as aggression against fellow prisoners, they are usually forced to stay there for a specified period of time as a measure.

Solitary confinement, according to research findings, fundamentally affects a person’s brain, resulting in major and long-term mental health concerns as well as the expansion of deviant and violent behavior. There is a distinction between loneliness (a highly unpleasant experience to perceived isolation and the imposition of social isolation, also known as social pain) and aloneness (a tendency toward being alone/the decision to be alone), and the brain responds in very different ways. Solitary confinement as a form of punishment is akin to torture, having devastating effects for brain health. Prisoners who are isolated endure a range of psychological impacts, including emotional, cognitive, and psychotic disorders.

Prisons are already destructive, and putting people in solitary confinement adds an added layer of pressure that has been proved to create lifelong abnormalities in people’s minds and characters. In fact, long periods without human interaction have been found to physically decrease the part of the brain that plays a crucial role in memory. And, because humans are social animals by nature, denying people of their capacity to socialize can result in “social pain”, which experts define as “the feelings of sadness and suffering that result from negative social situations such as social deprivation, isolation, rejection, or loss.” Social pain impacts the brain in the same manner that physical pain does, and it can trigger much more suffering due to humans’ tendency to remember social pain months or even years afterwards. Even if a person does not enter solitary confinement with a mental disorder, the consequences of isolation may cause them to acquire a distinct psychiatric syndrome.

Life is more than just animal existence. The people incarcerated cannot be denied the same. A prisoner, whether convicted, under trial, or detained, continues to be a human being. They have all of the rights that a free person enjoys, but with some limitations. Being imprisoned does not strip people of their fundamental rights. Even while imprisoned, he has all of his basic fundamental rights. And especially in this pandemic, when many people are left alone or with a cellmate in confined spaces for 24 hours a day, knowing the negative impacts of solitary confinement and reforming these practices is more necessary than ever.