Texas inmates held in solitary confinement told the American Civil Liberties Union about suffering paranoia, hallucinations, bizarre sleep habits, self-mutilation and constant screaming, the Washington Post reports. In an editorial, the newspaper says Texas is not the worst state when it comes to imposing solitary confinement on its prisoners, and its record has improved. Texas has cut the number of inmates in solitary by 34 percent since 2006.
The ACLU found that more than 4 percent of Texas's prisoners (6,000 people) are in solitary, spending an average of nearly four years in near-total isolation, locked in 60-square-foot cells for at least 22 hours a day. Mississippi knocked down its solitary confinement rate to 1.4 percent after a spate of violence in its solitary units inspired a strong reform program. Rick Raemisch, Colorado prison director, has said that only four or five people need to be placed in solitary long-term in his state. Many states throw mentally ill inmates into solitary when instead they need comprehensive, specialized treatment. In Texas and elsewhere, says the Post, “reform can't come fast enough for the men and women wasting away.”