- An earlier article explained its harmful effects, accessed
through the following link:
- Social psychologist Hans Toch coined the term "isolation
panic" to describe symptoms he observed in men he interviewed, including
panic, rage, a sense of total loss of control, emotional breakdown, regressive
behavior, and self-mutiliation. He distinguished between difficult but
tolerable incarceration and intolerable long-term isolation, how America
and Israel treat thousands, subjecting them to barbaric torture. If sustained
long enough, it destroys the human spirit, psyche, mind and body.
- Over time, it causes:
- -- severe anxiety;
- -- panic attacks;
- -- lethargy;
- -- insomnia;
- -- nightmares;
- -- dizziness;
- -- irrational anger, at time uncontrollable;
- -- confusion;
- -- social withdrawal;
- -- memory and appetite loss;
- -- delusions and hallucinations;
- -- mutilations;
- -- profound despair and hopelessness;
- -- suicidal thoughts;
- -- paranoia; and
- -- for many, a totally dysfunctional state and inability
ever to live normally outside of confinement.
- Prisoner anecdotes describe the experience, saying:
- -- "People come here with a few problems and leave
- -- You're like a "caged animal. I've seen people
just crack and either scream for hours on end or cry."
- -- Isolation "creates monsters (who) want revenge
- -- We "have a sense of hopelessness. Plus my anger
(is) a silent rage....I am beginning to really hate people."
- -- "They....try to break a person down mentally
(and) mental abuse leaves no evidence behind (like) physical abuse."
- -- Others say it's like being buried alive or living
in a tomb.
- When long-term, it often causes irreversible psychological
trauma and harm, a condition no society should inflict on anyone, nor should
lawmakers allow it.
- That's why forced isolation violates the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, the UN Torture Convention, and the UN Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. In 1995, the UN Human
Rights Committee called long-term prison isolation incompatible with international
standards, and in 1996, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment agreed.
- Isolating inmates long enough in windowless cells 23
hours a day causes madness. Even the strongest-willed break. Try it in
a windowless room for 24 hours with enough food and water for one day.
Imagine the desperation to get out. Then imagine it for many years or life.
- Institutionalized long-term isolation, in fact, causes
more mental illness than everyone in psychiatric hospitals combined. It
makes healthy inmates sick, so disturbed they sometimes boil over in rage,
explaining they can't contain it no matter how severely punished.
- Israel's Bar Association Report
- On December 27, Haaretz writer Tomer Zarchin headlined,
"Groundbreaking report details Israel's inhumane conditions for isolated
- "A classified report by the Israeli Bar Association
(IBA) obtained by Haaretz provides a glimpse into the harrowing conditions
prisoners separated from the main jail population must endure."
- Ayalon and Shikma prison isolation wings aren't fit for
human habitation and "look more like a dungeon, (while) most (Israeli)
solitary cells in (are) crammed, rancid with smells of sewer and mold,
and infested with insects."
- According to IBA criminal law head Moran Kabalo:
- "It's difficult to ignore the feeling that isolation
as practiced today serves a function of punishment rather than imprisonment....This
is a unilateral instrument of punishment used primarily against organized
crime groups." Also routinely against Palestinians, especially human
- Based on a year-long review, including direct with inmates,
the report explained that:
- "Many isolated inmates testified to have developed
paranoia, a tendency for uncontrollable fits of rage, and eyesight problems
because of the lack of natural light through most hours of the day."
- Yet Israel's Prison Service Commission orders allow isolation
only as a last resort, such as:
- -- "the security of the prison;
- -- preventing real damage to the discipline and normal
life in the prison;
- -- protecting the well-being or health of the prisoner
or of other prisoners; and
- -- protecting the security of the state."
- Yet Israel, like America, uses it punitively, making
it excruciatingly harsh for extra pain, amounting to sustained torture,
cruel, and inhumane treatment. Isolation wings are separate from other
areas where inmates are divided into subgroups, including:
- -- those posing a high escape risk;
- -- others who may be harmed by other prisoners; and
- -- those who might harm themselves so are separated and
- "Most (isolation) cells are windowless and are lit
by cold fluorescent lights. The meals are brought on trays and are inserted
through a latch that is shut immediately afterwards, to prevent poisoning."
- Prison Service Commission orders "explicitly prohibit
keeping regular prisoners in isolation cells intended to house (others)
convicted in internal disciplinary trials." Isolating inmates "routine(ly)
for extended periods of time is against the orders."
- Yet it's common practice under sub-minimal conditions
"unfit for human habitation. Keeping human beings in such unreasonable
conditions for extended periods of time (whoever they are for whatever
reason) deals a critical blow to the most basic human rights."
- Responding to the IBA's condemnation, Prison Service
spokesman Yaron Zamir said isolation is carried out "under court monitoring
and according to sheer necessity, while providing the appropriate conditions,
rights and treatment."
- Like other Israeli officials and their US counterparts,
he lied. Israeli prisons are hellholes, their isolation wings designed
for torture, violating fundamental international and Israeli law as well
as Prison Service Commission orders.
- Palestinians are Frequent Victims
- Most often, nonviolent Palestinian men, women and children
are affected. The Addameer Prisoners' Support and Human Rights Association
explains that since 1967, over 650,000 Palestinians were detained, over
20% of the entire population and about 40% of all males. Many spend time
in isolation as a form of cruel and unusual punishment. Nearly all experience
torture, including children. Many are uncharged but are brutalized anyway.
- Everyone incarcerated is a "story of a life torn
apart and an entire family broken. Yet the international community remains
relatively silent in the face of Israel's illegal detention....and the
fact" that torture and isolation are commonly used. "It is difficult
to imagine that the sons and daughters of (those affected) will one day
forget what they suffered when their loved ones were thrown" into
Israeli dungeons and brutalized for wanting Palestinian sovereignty and
Israel's illegal occupation ended.
- Those "crimes" land offenders in isolation,
sometimes for months or longer, where they're denied all rights and face
torture or other forms of cruel, inhumane, degrading and humiliating treatment.
- Under the 1971 Israeli Prison Ordinance, no provision
defines prisoner rights. Rules alone are specified for the Interior Minister
to interpret freely by administrative decree. For example, it's legal to
intern 20 inmates in a windowless cell as small as five meters long, four
meters wide and three meters high, including an open lavatory, where they
may be confined up to 23 hours daily.
- Separately isolated prisoners are in tiny, poorly ventilated
confinement with no visitation rights or contact with counsel or other
prisoners. Women and children are treated like men. Besides specific Geneva
Common Article 3 and other human rights law prohibitions against all forms
of inhumane treatment, Article 7(g) of the Rome Statute of the International
Criminal Court (ICC) defines crimes against humanity as:
- "Persecution (meaning) the intentional and severe
deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason
of the group or collectivity."
- A previous ICC ruling held that:
- "It is a firmly established precept that the human
rights to which a person is entitled simply by being human even when he
is detained or imprisoned, and the fact that he is incarcerated cannot
serve to deprive him of any right" under international law. Israel,
however, like America, flaunts all international law, acting shamlessly
- A Final Comment
- On December 15, Glenn Greenwald headlined his Salon.com
article, "The inhumane conditions of Bradley Manning's detention,"
- The accused whistleblower was never convicted of any
crime. Yet, he's "been detained at the US Marine brig in Quantico,
Virginia for five (now six) months - and for" two previous months
was held in Kuwait military confinement, "under conditions that constitute
cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even
- Those familiar with his confinement say he's likely to
experience "long-term psychological injuries," yet he's been
a model detainee. All along, he's been "in intensive solitary confinement"
23 hours a day for (eight) straight months and counting....(He) sits completely
alone in his cell. Even inside he's "heavily restricted." Under
constant surveillance, he's prohibited from exercising, and "denied
many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including
even a pillow or sheets for his bed."
- Outside his cell one hour a day, he's "barred from
accessing any news or current events programs." He's so affected that
he's "administer(ed) regular doses of anti-depressants....to prevent
his brain from snapping...."
- America's first designated "enemy combatant,"
alleged dirty bomber Jose Padilla was brutalized in military and civilian
isolation without charge for nearly four years. He endured alternating
periods of extreme sensory deprivation or noise, no right to counsel for
two years, beatings, injections with mind-altering drugs, and no medical
treatment that destroyed him.
- His mind was turned to mush, making him unfit for trial.
Yet a public show trial convicted him on bogus terrorism charges, sentencing
him to 17 years, four months hard time for his "role" in a "conspiracy"
to help "Islamic jihadists." In fact, he was wrongfully charged,
destroyed for political advantage like thousands of others rotting in US
and Israeli isolation, victimized by police state justice.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
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