In a chilling revelation from PBS Frontline’s “Solitary Nation,” Todd Fickett, a survivor of solitary confinement, aptly describes it as akin to being “buried alive.” This haunting analogy reveals the disturbing reality of how the prison system uses solitary confinement to effectively make incarcerated people disappear.

Solitary confinement is an inhumane practice that is shrouded in secrecy and has devastating consequences. Incarcerated people endure isolation in tiny cells for up to 24 hours a day, deprived of human contact, natural light, and basic necessities. Shockingly, 85% of those placed in solitary find themselves there for minor infractions, while others are sent there as a form of retaliation by guards for reporting other abuses.

Fickett’s comparison to being “buried alive” highlights the profound psychological and emotional toll that solitary confinement exacts. The experience leaves individuals in a state of constant darkness, both physically and mentally, leading to severe mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

What’s more alarming is how the prison system uses solitary confinement to effectively “disappear” individuals from society’s view. By locking them away in these bleak, isolated cells, authorities remove them from public scrutiny, making it easier to ignore their suffering.

The consequences of this abuse extend beyond prison walls. Solitary confinement exacerbates recidivism rates, as incarcerated people released from these torturous conditions struggle to reintegrate into society, often scarred for life.

The need for reform is urgent. Advocates, policymakers, and activists are rallying to end the prison system’s reliance on solitary confinement. It’s crucial to expose and rectify this cruel and inhumane practice, ensuring that no one else, particularly those incarcerated for minor infractions or those who bravely report abuses, is subjected to the horror of vanishing within the prison system’s dark and unforgiving depths.