October 16, 2010Brandon Green is imprisoned in Uinta 1, a supermax unit at the Utah State Prison in Draper. His writings appear on a blog created for him by Utah Prison Watch. In this piece, he challenges readers to imagine what is like to live in solitary confinement, as he vividly describes the physical and psychological deterioration that take place in an isolation cell.
Go to your bathroom door and kick a hole in it. Now lock yourself in tight. Throw all your hygiene items, except a tooth brush and toothpaste tube, out the hole. Everything. Now go to your tub and flip it over. This is where you’ll sleep. Now sit. The light switch disappears and the shower spigot. A little speaker replaces them. It listens and sometimes speaks to you. Laughs at you. Taunts you. Tells you your suffering is entertaining. You can’t shut off the light with no switch and you’ll have to shower using the sink.
As you sit, you hear ten or so voices outside the door. That’s funny. Sounds like that guy who robbed my mother’s house last year and put her in a wheelchair after brutally beating and raping her. It can’t be! Is that the judge that let the man run free too? And his twisted attorney? Why are they here!?!
The worst enemies you could imagine, or put a face to, have just moved into your house. As you sit in the bathroom. These people only wish you harm of the utmost. And your death would be nothing but joy for them. All your food, and any mail you might be expecting, will have to come from these “squatter enemies.” Good luck!
To make matters worse, these enemies of yours control all your heating, air conditioning, water from your sink and to your toilet. And to top it off, if they see you sleeping they’ll kick the door and yell at you. They laugh.
You can hear these men day and night right outside your door. You smell them barbecuing and smoking. You’re hungry. You can hear these men torturing people. Sometimes other people in similar bathrooms next to yours are pulled out and placed in body bags. To the amusement of these squatters.
A day passes this way.
“My god,” you say, “what have I done to deserve this?”
A week passes.
You attempt suicide but your vein closes up before death.
You are now talking to yourself and running around naked. You are convinced the food you seldom receive, that’s halfway edible, is poisoned. As you eat the rotten “meat” your beard and mustache get in the way of the teeth chewing. You couldn’t cry if your life depended on it. And it used to. But you’ve forgotten why.
You can’t remember. You’ve forgotten. Forgotten what? You don’t know. The “squatter enemies” come around and you look at them. They look at you. They laugh. You start to laugh too. You forgot why. But you do.
You sleep 20 hours a day. You can’t help it. But your floor is clean. You keep it spotless. You don’t know why. But you do. You’re skinny. You’ve lost an easy 60 lbs. Your skin is turning yellow and your legs cramp up and atrophy. You don’t want to die anymore. Why bother? You’d rather sleep and dream. The dreams are so vivid. More real than these walls.
You go home, you leave your bathroom, this year.
They tell you that. But why? Where do I go? I don’t want to leave now. I like my tub and sink…