Prison Chief Sends Letter to Inmates Asking Them Not to Kill Themslves
Kulture Kritic reported on the psychological impact of solitary confinement on prisoners when the U.S. Senate held its first ever hearing on the topic. During the hearing, Anthony Graves, a former Texas prisoner who was fully exonerated of a murder conviction after spending 18 years in jail, testified that he’d seen men go insane and commit suicide due to solitary confinement. He also testified that he’d seen a man eat his own eye.
Now The Atlantic’s Andrew Cohen, who has been reporting on a lawsuit challenging solitary confinement, has learned that the Justice Department’s Bureau of Prisons Chief, Charles Samuels, sent inmates a letter encouraging them not to commit suicide. The memo reads:
Every institution is staffed with psychologists who provide counseling and other supportive mental health services. Anytime you want to speak with a psychologist, let staff know and they will contact Psychology Services to make the necessary arrangements.
If you are unable to think of solutions other than suicide, it is not because solutions do not exist; it is because you are currently unable to see them. Do not lose hope. Solutions can be found, feelings change, unanticipated positive events occur. Look for meaning and purpose in educational and treatment programs, faith, work, family and friends.
The first quote, regarding access to psychological professionals, is helpful if true. But the second quote is patronizing and insincere. Samuels may not be aware of this, but the family and friends of most prison inmates are back home, not in lock-up. So, I’m sure it proves quite difficult to rely on family who are far away, or friends who you only speak with during prescribed hours.
Can you imagine? Trying to address the issue of inmate suicide with a … memo? It wreaks of complacency and indifference.
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