Damon Thibodeaux, exonerated with DNA evidence on Friday, had served 15 years on death row in Louisiana’s Angola prison for a murder that he didn’t commit. Like most death row inmates, Thibodeaux served that time in solitary confinement, in a 6 x 9 foot cell for 23 hours a day with an hour of recreation in a penned enclosure.
New research from the NYCLU shows the strain that these environments put on prisoners, including letters from New York State prisoners who were put in solitary confinement for mostly disciplinary reasons. The
New York Times
Having been held captive to their imaginations for weeks, months or, occasionally, years on end, the men — many already struggling with mental illness — brought their paranoia, rage, anxiety and hope to life on the page, with descriptions that were sometimes literary and other times nearly impossible to decipher. More than anything, they conveyed a grisly awareness that their identities were unraveling, a feeling so disconcerting for some that they tried to take their own lives.
The report, “
Boxed In: The True Cost of New York’s Dependence on Isolation
,” was released today.
Damon Thibodeaux’s wrongful conviction
Read more about the
18 people exonerated through DNA testing who served time on death row