I pace like an anxious animal waiting for the zookeepers to transfer me to the 30 foot by 7 foot cage with a pull up bar. The lone piece of equipment, like a dead tree standing in a desolate concrete field.
Cuff up!! Back out of the cell slowly! These are the orders I must follow as the two officers transfer me from one habitat to another. Maximum Security, the bold black letters stamped across my security designation; the two words that justify my isolation from the rest of the prison population. Administrative Segregation (Ad Seg), the two words that are my isolation, 23 hour lock-down, only moving between cages in restraints, always by 2 correctional officers (CO's).
I got officially ad seged the day after Christmas (Merry Christmas) 2007 for allegedly participating in a riot. Even though all the inmates in the gym were strip searched for signs of fighting and arrested if they had any signs that very night. I wasn't arrested until 12 days later on the word of one man, the Gang Coordinator. A man who's word was so golden to the 2 staff members presiding over my fate that even after the loss of the list identifying who was in the gym and the presentation of incident reports from 10 responding eye witness staff members (all saying they observed black and Hispanic inmates fighting with no mention of whites); I was still deemed a danger and threat to the safety and security of the prison. The only evidence relied upon was the report issued by the gang coordinator which had no mention of his sources or how he came to the conclusion of my involvement. Of course there was no mention that I had no history of violent behavior in the 4 years spend in the Colorado Department of Corrections for violence. Or that I had no disciplinary infractions in over a year. No, one mans word was more powerful than all of that.
I think Ad Seg, as a whole, should be looked at and tested to see if isolation is a reasonable means of achieving prisons entire goal of rehabilitating an offender to become a productive, functioning, law abiding citizen. Ad seg, a place where human contact is forbidden, human interaction is frowned upon. Men yell out steel doors at each other or talk through air vents for companionship discussing a variety of topics from loose women, drugs, life in the fast lane, to politics, philosophy and the latest current events. Desperate attempts at maintaining some form of social skills, some connection with humanity. Ad seg, the Department of Corrections favorite tool. Originally designed to house the worst of the worst, the incorrigible men who refuse to conform or were just to dangerous to be housed in general population. Ad-seg is now used for the violent and non-violent alike. The alcoholic who was brewing wine, now suffers the same fate as the man who continues to kill in prison. A tool overused to reap more money from a state's overstretched budget. Ad-seg is abused like every other instrument of our modern justice system. A quick fix for a growing problem, but does isolation truly work? The true mind game of Colorado's ad-seg program is there is no time line for release back to general population. You never know when or if you are getting out. Is this a tool that should be so easily employed? Jonny
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