Saturday, December 3, 2016

The psychological torture of Minnesota prisoners

Another alarming investigation by Andy Mannix in the Star Tribune:

Anthony Nasseff lay awake for hours silent, staring at the metal slot on his prison cell door, waiting for his breakfast tray to appear. That signaled morning: the beginning of another day of tedium, despair and loneliness. Nasseff was a 20-year-old inmate at Minnesota’s Oak Park Heights prison when a disorderly conduct citation earned him an initially short stay in solitary confinement.

It lasted three years.

For at least 23 hours a day, walled off from all outside sounds, Nasseff was confined inside a 8 ½-by-11-foot cell. A single bed, concrete bench, shower and toilet left just enough space for him to do push-ups. A camera mounted on the ceiling watched him at all times. Unseen hands flushed the toilet and controlled the light.

Overwhelmed by constant solitude, Nasseff decided to end his life. First he tried to choke himself to death with a bedsheet. Later he attempted overdosing on over-the-counter pain medication. When that didn’t work, he stopped eating and drinking, hoping his body would stop functioning. He calculated five days would be long enough. But he broke down after three and accepted water.

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