Special Interview! Surviving Solitary: 101 Days in the Hole

By the BARS Newspaper Team

This month’s articles chronicled the policies, stories, accounts, procedures, legislation, and transformation of America’s use of solitary confinement on incarcerated people. Because this issue focuses on one of the paramount issue of America’s carceral state we wanted readers to hear a first-hand perspective to truly understand the degree of isolation a human faces in solitary confinement. This issue includes our second of hopefully many interviews with a citizen who is currently incarcerated. Latif, who is being detained over 300 miles from his home, recently spent 101 days in the hole and is excited to support our work by sharing his experience with BARS and our readers. When we asked Latif to describe the time he spent in solitary confinement between October and early January, during one of the coldest winters in recent history this was his account. (In order to protect the identity of our correspondents from retaliation BARS does not publish last names or other identifiers).

 

Latif: Things I did from the time I woke up is stand in the door, walk back and forth, and write raps for hours at a time and writing, because it does help a lot. It keeps your mind off of the “right now”, it also feels like you’re talking, just a couple days response to it though. But it works, it keeps you calm. I read a lot, I either read a book I already had or got from someone in the hole, I did that for a couple of hours. I was in a one-man cell, so I had time to think, write plans, and think about my future.

I didn’t work out because I didn’t have the food to do so. I used to watch the TV on the block, it’s on from 8 to 11 sometimes, but the C.Os will turn it off as a punishment when they are not supposed to. I didn’t go to the yard because it was super cold, and they only give you the jumpsuit you wear on the visits. It was cold most days and then it would warm up. I was in the hole for 101 [days] I was only supposed to be in there for 90, but because of bed space I had to do 11 more days.

It was stressful because of how the hole is ran, it’s like they don’t give a fuck. They don’t walk around like how they are supposed to, so we can’t always get what we need. They take our yard [time] for bullshit, when we are supposed to be able to get a hour a day and when or if they take it, we don’t get that. Every day I wake up to write and work on me. I wrote letters and read, I walk back and forth watch TV. They put me in a camera cell for two weeks, I had to be watched for no reason even if I had to use the bathroom or take a shower. Like I said it was stressful. For most people it can be something that can mentality break a person down but not me I had strong support team, a good wife, and family without that a person can get great wrong and even though mail is helpful it can take up to two weeks maybe three. You can have visits, but its cut in half and behind a glass window and your hands and feet are cuffed. The shower was cold and they would put us back in a cold cell. They cuffed us to go anywhere outside of our cell.

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