A Storyville documentary: an extraordinary and harrowing portrait of life in solitary confinement - and a unique document of a radical and risky experiment to reform a prison.
Browse content similar to Last Days of Solitary. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
This programme contains strong language and scenes which some viewers may find disturbing
This place is like an insane asylum.
All types of craziness, and
if you don't have a strong mind, this place can break you quick.
A lot of guys, they don't even have reasons why, they just snap out.
That's what this place does to you. It makes you mean.
It makes you violent.
The more you sit down here, the worse person you can become.
This is solitary confinement.
My name's Todd Michael Fickett, my prisoner number is 93262.
I'm here for arson. In prison for arson.
Down here, makes you feel like you're being buried alive.
You're some place, alive, but you're no place anybody would want to.
I'm down here in solitary confinement for, like, six months
for hitting an officer in the kitchen.
That's what you get to do.
Sit there and think about your thoughts all day.
Pace back and forth.
That's pretty much 24/7.
Like, you come out, I think it's twice a week, for a shower.
You know. You can change your clothes when you want,
but you're still stuck in a cell every day.
mental state will probably go downhill, like it did last time.
I go pretty crazy.
We're not supposed to do it, but we do it.
It's kind of funny.
We're just bored, we've got to have something to do.
You want to make sure somebody's around.
We send notes, letters, medications,
and sometimes razor blades.
-What's up? What's going on?
-We've got a bleeder!
We've got a little bleeder!
Fickett. Talk to me, man.
Hey! What's going on, man?
-Talk to me.
-I can't do that.
-I got fucking six others talking in my head, smart ass.
Why don't you take this stuff down?
What's going, man? Come on.
Can you grab a camera and come in here, please?
That's what mental health will get for not doing their job.
-I love you, faggot!
How bad are you cut, let me see it?
Let me see it.
-We need to get medical in.
-Like, a lot. Now.
Hey, Fickett, do me a favour. Put that towel over there on your arm.
OK? Let's just at least slow that bleeding down.
-Hopefully next time you fucking die!
Are you willing to cuff up?
Drink some of your blood, Fickett!
Come on. We're going to help you.
The first step is we've got to get that arm taken care of.
And then we can get you some help, OK?
Kill the faggot!
He's a pretty serious cutter.
I've known Todd for quite a while now,
and his history of self-injurious behaviour is pretty significant.
So he does a pretty good job when he does cut, so, I mean,
he'll go right for a main artery
or he'll tap into something that produces copious amounts
and puts his life at risk.
So, basically right now,
I'm going to see if I can move him to one of our two cells
that I have that are designated for constant watchers,
they have cameras built into them. They got full glass doors.
It's inevitable, you put us in here with nothing to do,
shit's going to hit the fan.
Another day on the job. It's a real clean-up right year.
We probably average about 20 of these a month, so...
In the last year, I've become an expert on blood, I guess.
My heart goes out to everybody down here.
I've been behind these doors,
so I know what it's like to stay down here for years.
You know, being behind these walls, it get to everybody,
and everybody deals with it in their own particular way.
As you can imagine, someone being 17, 18 years old
in a setting like this, you know, it does a lot with your mind.
My belief is the use of segregation has its place
when you have real dangerous prisoners, but from my perspective,
it is overused throughout the United States.
For the normal person who doesn't work in a facility like this,
they're going to be thinking,
"If you punish them, you're going to make them better."
And the reality is the exact opposite happens.
-Come and get it, motherfuckers!
Putting them in confinement, forgetting about them,
is essentially going to make them worse.
There's no question in my mind.
If I have somebody that comes in with a five-year commitment,
you can have them do their whole time in segregation,
but I don't want them living next to me when you release them.
I think we need to make every attempt at
moving them out of those cells
and moving them into general population.
I want you out on the other side of that door.
Because that's good for you to be on this side of the door,
not that side. All right?
-So we've got to find a way to get you out,
so you're not fighting with people.
We had some very, very dangerous prisoners.
So, on the surface, they might look crazy, but the reality is
80% of these inmates are going to be hitting the street.
OK, so, we can either make them worse, OK,
and create more victims when they go on the street,
or we can rehabilitate them.
I'm Adam Brulotte. 102817.
I've been in prison since November 28th, 2012.
Got into a lot of fights in school, started drinking at 17.
Getting in huge fights at parties. Like, three on one
and winning, and everybody thought I was the coolest kid,
so I just kept on doing it and doing it.
I went too far and broke a kid's jaw in seven places with one punch.
That landed me an aggravated assault.
Secure bravo 101, local, secure, please.
I just went overboard.
That's why I'm down here.
I freaked out,
I was screaming, I started punching stuff.
I got maced and tackled.
They're trying to say I started a riot.
And they brought me down here. I've been down here two days now.
I like seg. I can handle being locked down 23 hours a day
cos I can read. I can write, I can do push-ups.
Most of the time I just chill, you've got to relax.
You can't get yourself wound up cos you can't leave that room.
Sounds good to my standards!
I'm always at this window, so I like the window to be clean.
My face touches it, my hands touch it.
Yeah, it sucks, but I think I'm doing good.
Good, that's a good place for you to focus on.
I don't know what I could do. My mind races all night and...
..I've got hardcore ADD, and I'm about to leave in five months.
I don't know where I'm going to go.
I don't know where I'm going to work.
I don't know how I'm going to get a car.
I've still got 1,000 to pay, with no car and no job.
When you settle down in your room, and you really just start thinking,
just bang, bang, bang, all at once.
And I need...
I'm just trying to get some medication
to slow that down for now. That's really the problem.
This really kind of fucks with my head.
-Why are you pissed off?
Because they're fucking fucking with people's portions.
-Right in the face!
-Hit him right in the face!
That's a million-dollar shot, kid.
That's what they call the million-dollar shot.
What's all that stuff?
Probably urine and toilet paper and food.
What's going on, Adam?
In half an hour, I'm going to let that lose,
it should be in the hallway.
Listen, there's no need for this, man, you know that.
If you're making a statement, Adam, I don't want to hear it.
It never fucking ends.
Can't do anything unless you talk to me.
-You know that. Come on.
-Oh, shit! There it goes.
If we just leave Brulotte in segregation,
he's going to become worse.
We're going to end up with an inmate that probably will attempt
to stab himself, without a doubt, at some point,
begin demonstrating some self-abusive behaviour.
So now we're going to introduce some programmes,
we'll work with the inmates until eventually
they become less dangerous
and then we could look at moving them back to general population.
-Good morning, good morning.
-25 days in seg.
We'll talk about that after.
Oh, here he goes.
No, I just want to get started cos we've only got a little time.
This class is going the same way we always go.
Ain't nothin' gonna change for nothin'. No reason.
This is going to be a slow process,
we had Brulotte initially in cuffs and shackles.
After we developed a little more confidence,
he'd be attending the groups just in cuffs.
Build up a little more confidence,
he'd attend the groups without cuffs,
and with just one other inmate.
And we would gradually work him,
so that he'd leave that group from segregation
into general population, where his programme would continue.
So how does pride affect us?
I show pride. I try to go too far. I started to get hard-headed.
So you go from pride into doing what everybody wants?
Yeah. "I'll be so much cooler if I break this guy's eye socket."
-Or if I flood this...
-And then I go do it,
and then I go to a high-risk...
You've got to find a different way of dealing with your anxiety,
your anger and all that other stuff that comes
with sitting in that cell all day.
When I get angry, I don't think before I act.
I usually don't take responsibility for myself
and I just blame other people.
But, doing this programme,
I'm going to start taking responsibility.
I'm the one fucking up, so I can't be pointing the finger.
That sounds fantastic. Number one - honesty.
I've seen it work.
I'm an absolute believer in it working.
It is our job to the extent that we can to rehabilitate them
so that they can become successful,
productive citizens in the community.
My legal name's Samuel Caison.
I prefer to be called Sam.
I'm currently here for a Class A aggravated assault.
Most of my family's been in and out of prison their whole life.
I grew up around this.
I first drank and smoked pot around ten years old.
By age 14, I was shooting heroin
and had already done a couple of juvenile sentences.
The first time I got in trouble, I got sent to a mental hospital.
And then I got sent to a juvenile facility for a year.
I spent nine months in seg, by myself, when I was 16.
That was the worst, you know.
It's just torture, pretty much.
I would bang my head on doors, cut myself.
Pretty much anything I wasn't supposed to do that I could do
with the very little bit I had in my cell.
I spend most of my time in seg in the chair.
Get off me, motherfuckers!
The chair is a restraint chair,
they cuff you up, your arms are strapped in.
You have two straps going across your chest.
Your legs are strapped.
And they leave you strapped in
until they feel you're calm enough to act normal.
-Shut the door.
I had turned 18, and I got sent up here,
and pretty much spent the rest of that sentence in seg.
Me, personally, when I spend too much time inside my head,
it's a dangerous thing.
Cell extractions are like a game.
It's our opportunity to get back at COs.
They mess with one person
and spend the rest of their shift doing cell extractions.
Dumb as it is, the cell extractions, people cutting up,
is our TV, so to speak.
I cut cos it's my only way to escape.
Obviously, being locked up, you don't have control of nothing.
And cutting myself makes me feel in control.
Since I came to population, I just tried to bury myself in programmes.
But I don't know how any of that's going to work out.
After doing a lot of time in seg, I'm not a person that likes to talk.
It breaks you.
When I'm inside my head too much, I get paranoid about things...
..and ultimately get depressed. Depression's not a good thing
when you're locked in your cell 23 hours a day.
Solitary confinement has the most fascinating history in
the United States.
The United States was actually the leader in modern times of
introducing solitary confinement to the world.
It was actually introduced by the Quakers
as a noble experiment in rehabilitation.
There was a belief
that you could put a prisoner in his own solitary cell,
freed from the evil influences of modern society,
and if you put them in that cell,
they would become like a penitent monk -
free to come close to God
and to their own inner being,
and they would naturally heal,
heal from the evils of
the outside society.
It was a noble experiment,
and it was an absolute catastrophe.
By the 1830s,
statistical evidence began to accumulate
that there was an inordinate incidence of psychosis,
of suicide, and that people just deteriorated.
there was major condemnation of the institution by
the United States Supreme Court. And so,
the experiment with solitary confinement gradually diminished
as evidence became unmistakable
that this was causing disastrous psychiatric consequences.
What we're going to do with Todd
is introduce an individualised programme
in the mental health unit.
We're going to have a clinician working with Todd
until we are successful at reducing the cutting behaviour.
Ultimately, at the end of the day,
we'll look at reintegrating Todd back into the general population.
We still believe that he presents a significant danger to the staff
and the other inmates. Todd ended up in segregation
for a very serious assault, so essentially
we need to be reassured, through programming,
that the likelihood of him engaging in that type of behaviour
is significantly reduced.
Have a seat there. You must be, Mr Fickett.
So next is to figure out how you're doing and plan our next steps.
So fill me in.
You still don't feel very good?
Can you tell me a little bit more about...?
You feel like shit, what does that mean?
You still want to what?
Not even knowing the guy very well, and I don't,
I can tell you he doesn't enjoy this.
The intent isn't to engender any sympathy, the intent, many times,
is to make an officer do things.
They feel totally controlled, and this is what they learn.
It's a learned behaviour,
is that you can control others with this.
But it is, kind of, a pathological way of control
cos it doesn't gain them anything.
It's just, for the briefest of time, they feel some sense of control,
and then they are left stuck again.
And usually, in worse physical shape.
We're just at the beginning. He's still struggling.
He's still going to have to do his seg time,
and he doesn't want to do it.
So there is that kid side of him that just doesn't want to have to,
and, "You can't make me," kind of thing.
I'd like to help him through that process.
So after the Quakers' experiment,
the United States abandoned the use of solitary confinement
because it was widespread recognition that it was doing
terrible damage to the people who were placed there,
only, sadly, to return to it in the late 20th century.
-On our special segment tonight,
the subject is overcrowding. Prison overcrowding.
-2: The state has the nation's largest prison system
and also one of the most overcrowded.
-3: Outdated, overcrowded and near a state of crisis.
-2: With three times as many inmates as cells.
The United States in the 1970s,
we began to put unprecedented numbers of people in prison,
and so you had terribly overcrowded conditions
and prisons that looked like they were about to become out of control.
-Prison populations reached
an all-time high in this country last month,
and one prison burst under the strain.
Inmates set fire to 13 buildings and then attacked prison guards.
The other thing that happened was that there were increasing numbers
of mentally ill prisoners coming into the prison system.
Their behaviour was harder to understand,
it was harder to control. Prison systems didn't have
the resources to properly deal with them.
-1: Marion, America's toughest prison.
Conditions are so tense officials now say
the prison is in a virtual state of siege.
-2: In October 1983,
two inmates, already serving life sentences,
murdered two guards in the same cell block the same day.
Well, in 1983,
there were two officers within 24 hours that were killed
by the Aryan Brotherhood.
The staff at Marion were completely demoralised.
They felt that we had to do something
to protect them from these inmates.
And we had to do something to protect...
..inmates from these inmates.
The Bureau director got involved, and said, "Lock it down."
It wasn't just a day, it wasn't just a week, it was a permanent lockdown.
-1: The entire prison was locked down, that is,
every man was confined to his cell to restore order.
-2: Now there is nearly one guard for every inmate.
Unruly inmates can be chained to their concrete slab beds
for hours, even days.
With the high security, the lockdown was created out of necessity
to maintain control of the inmates, confidence
and protection of the staff
that have to face these kinds of individuals on a daily basis.
-Marion's lockdown was never lifted,
and officials say it never will be.
Their response to it was to employ
very large-scale solitary confinement.
Put a ton of people in solitary,
which took away opportunities for programming,
opportunities for social interaction,
and that model of utter total control
and harsh punishment took off in the United States,
so that over time it developed more and more super max prisons,
where everyone's in solitary confinement.
For the people who felt we were too hard or harsh,
what alternative did we have?
What choices did we have?
Our job is to protect the inmates and the staff
and to allow people to get through their time
and go out as respectable citizens, that type of thing.
What are you going to do with those people
who don't want that to happen?
Have you got a better answer?
I wish we did. I always said, I wish we had some social medicine,
or a magic wand that we could use to correct people's behaviour,
but there is no such thing.
You guys get to go home! I've got to stay here for a fucking year!
That's not right, man.
Yeah, I figured.
I've been down here 40 days now.
And I'm not eating or drinking.
They are going to tell me to drink something, I'm going to say no.
Then they'll be like, "Well, just give him what he wants."
Education, a deck of cards and medication.
Not even medication I can even possibly abuse.
Antidepressants and something to slow me down.
A day in this cell is like three days out there.
I want my education.
You're going to be getting your GED. OK?
I want to fucking do some testing tomorrow.
-I'm not eating anything and I'm not going to.
You can put me in the deepest... I want my fucking GED.
-I'm going to snap.
-You know what?
That's a legitimate request.
But you stamping isn't going to get it to you.
What you need to do at this point is let me try to help you.
I'm just fucking... I'm done.
-I'm this close.
-I'm just fucking close!
-You believe that bullshit, you'll believe any fucking thing.
I don't fucking believe in nothing.
Brulotte is a young man.
Brulotte is impulsive.
And essentially, he's going to have to engage in programmes,
he's going to have to demonstrate
the behaviours that we are looking for
before we're ready to reintegrate him in general population.
He's going to have to show us, and demonstrate to us,
that the likelihood of him being involved in assault or a crime
is diminished significantly.
Listen, you've got four months left.
You start behaving and we'll figure something out.
Let me tell you, if we can put some behaviour together,
then we'll take a look at, at some point,
moving you out of here so you can be released in general pop.
This is fucking bullshit!
You treat us like animals.
We will act like animals.
You want to come out and talk about all this stuff that's going on?
Well, after I fight.
-'61. 400. 500.'
There's got to be something.
Well, right now we have an inmate that's covered his window,
we can't see in.
He's actually plugged his toilet, flooded the toilet out.
Pushed faeces out the cell doors.
He's covered our back window
so we can't look into the back window and see him either.
So we have some concerns for what he's doing in his cell,
for his own safety.
We have a prisoner that has boarded up on the lower quarter.
Refusing all staff orders.
'I do not know, but if anybody is, it will be 611.'
Unit manager Alan will be conducting and operating the extracting team.
I will be assuming incident command, 10-3?
'Bravo 222, I can confirm the extraction team.'
Bravo 222, over. Bravo 222.
Viewing central. He's in here.
You can't conduct yourself like a human being
when they treat you like an animal.
-Mr Brulotte, how are you feeling today?
-That's good to hear.
-It's freezing in that room.
There's only the door, and there's a crack in it, this much.
I can barely sleep down there. And my mind just races and races
and races. I read, I do push-ups, I eat, I shit, I fucking jerk off,
I do all I can to keep busy.
All I really want to do is go to school. I leave in like 170 days.
-I'm down two days now.
We've got staff on board that can help you.
No, I need fucking shit to do, I need to go to school.
And I want my GED.
That's all I ask.
-I'm not going to go out there and scram for another job,
selling drugs and shit cos I don't have no education.
That's fair. OK.
I told you at your door yesterday, give me a shot.
Give me a chance. If I feel you're full of shit,
then you do what you think you've got to do. OK?
And we'll do what we've got to do. All right?
We'll do our best to get you the help you need, OK?
But I need you to do your part, OK?
You need to keep your head screwed on straight, OK?
-Thanks for coming out and talking, all right.
Solitary confinement is toxic to mental function.
There's a particular illness
that results from being in solitary confinement. It's a delirium.
It's a neuropsychiatric, almost a medical neurological disease.
What we see in humans,
we see in animals, we see it in mammals.
-Now suppose that
in addition to an environment that is merely strange,
we produce one that's really frightening.
Doctor Harry Harlow, in the 1950s,
did some experimentation with monkeys,
studying the effect of social isolation,
and one of his experiments involved taking monkeys
who had been raised with other monkeys,
so they were socialised and OK,
and then putting them in
what amounted to a solitary confinement chamber.
He may die for want of love.
You'd see them rocking and shaking and, sort of, ritualistic,
And after some period of time, they brought them out
and put them into a cage with other animals.
These monkeys were massively impaired.
They were frightened, hiding.
And then they would have sudden aggression, attacking each other.
Very different behaviour, very abnormal behaviour.
There was no recovery. These animals didn't recover from this.
One of the important clinical findings with solitary confinement
is that people deprived of an adequate level of stimulation
become actually intolerant of stimulation.
They overreact, they become hyper responsive to it
and they can't stand it.
That's why you see guys getting out of solitary
and they just hide in their room. They can't stand stimulation.
There has been a recent study that actually showed that
this is a reality in the brain.
It was a study from the Balkan conflict
in which it looked at prisoners released from confinement
and looked at their brainwaves.
Some of these guys had hyper responsive reactions,
spiked reactions to visual stimulus.
And they looked at who those fellows were.
Length of time in prison, no.
There was only two things that predicted it -
head trauma to the point of unconsciousness
and a period of time in solitary confinement.
So what we see clinically is actually confirmed by EEG finds.
Think about this in terms of the danger to our community.
Most of these people are going to get out.
And you're releasing them to the street,
totally unequipped to deal with being outside the jail,
and of great danger to our community.
You're increasing the danger to our community.
You lose all feelings.
You become immune to everything.
You're not the same after spending so much time by yourself
in those conditions.
I don't care who you are...
..you don't come out the same person.
I did 11 months in the seg unit.
I went from there, straight home.
I tried to tell my mom and everybody I didn't want anybody around.
I got home, there was five people there,
and I felt like it was 5,000 people there.
And ultimately, for my first couple of months,
I'd lock myself in my camper until my mom and everybody
tried to explain to me I'm not in prison.
I shouldn't live like that.
..tried to force myself to live
like I was still in seg...
..because I didn't know what to do.
And then when I stopped, I was out of control.
I didn't know what to do with myself. I went from...
the most restrictive place I've ever been to no restrictions at all.
And ultimately, I ended up shooting somebody and coming back.
My name's Richard Stahursky, 29297.
I was convicted of robbery,
and crime with violence in possession of a stolen firearm.
I got sentenced in 2002.
Sent me here.
I was always getting in trouble as a kid.
Pretty much, I grew up around violence.
And when I was really young, I was in a place for young kids who have,
like, behaviour problems and whatnot.
And then when I was 17, I went to a red alert prison.
I did most of my sentence in seg.
I think it had an effect on me
because it made me where I don't care. It doesn't bother me now.
And then it just progressed from there.
Got out, went in. Got out, went in.
Then I ended up in seg here.
In 2003, I was out in population and I stabbed an inmate 23 times.
I got placed in segregation
and stabbed another inmate out here in the red cages.
And assaulted a bunch of COs, lit a couple of fires.
Escaped out of my cell.
You name it, I've done it.
And then they let me back out in to population.
And, to be honest with you, I was weirded out
because you're in a cell 23 hours a day,
you're not used to people walking behind you,
talking to you real loud.
And getting out felt really weird.
Kind of like
the first day at school, except, like, 100 times worse.
You know what I mean?
Being around groups of people after being so segregated for so long.
On a scale of one to ten, where you sit now,
where do you feel that you are in terms of open-mindedness?
-Probably a two.
You know, while we may be willing to change and be open-minded about...
I'm very confident that this process is going to work.
I can tell you that the number of fights have dropped,
the number of use of weapons has dropped.
Transports to the emergency room have dropped.
The use of constant watches has dropped.
So overall it's had a positive impact, but we're just beginning.
The reality is we're just beginning.
Prison systems around the country, very, very slowly beginning to see
that solitary confinement is not a panacea,
that in many instances it creates many more problems than it solves.
It's very, very expensive
and that there are much more cost-effective
and intelligent ways of addressing these problems than the super max
solitary confinement solution we've been using.
-1: The Federal Bureau of Prisons
has started a review of solitary confinement
at all federal prisons.
Colorado, Maine and Georgia are already scaling back.
-2: New York State has agreed to place
unprecedented restrictions on
the use of solitary confinement in its prisons.
-3: The president says, quote,
"Solitary confinement has the potential to lead to devastating,
"lasting psychological consequences."
In each place, the consequence of depopulating
the segregation of super max units has been a very positive one.
It's actually resulted in an overall reduction in the amount of violence
in the larger prison systems, which is something no-one predicted.
-1: After a series of reforms
the number of Mississippi inmates in solitary confinement is down 75%.
Closing unit 32 saved Mississippi 6 million a year.
Let me tell you what I think may be going on,
which is that the existence of solitary confinement has allowed
correction systems to deal with problems
by putting people in a hole,
by sending them off to solitary confinement
and never having to think it through beyond that.
The absence of having that as a quick solution
forces them to take a different attitude about things,
to de-escalates problems before they get to be too severe.
To try to get to the bottom of why it is there is conflict between prisoners.
And when you get to the root of the problem
you can actually try to address the problem in the here and now
rather than saying, "Well, there's always super max."
How are you doing?
Did you get my letter?
So how are you and Mom doing?
I got to finally talk to my daughter for the first time,
and she actually said,
"Hi, Daddy. I love you." So...
-How did it make you feel?
It made me feel like a new guy.
I wouldn't say man, per se, because I'm only 21,
but it made me feel like a new guy.
It made me feel all fuzzy.
Mr Fickett's somebody who tries to illicit that he's not helpable
and he's just into being a nasty guy, but I don't believe that,
and I've told him that,
so he sometimes tries to test me,
and see if I can be brought down to believing that he's really
a horrible human being.
No, I mean, he's too young to throw away.
I like puzzles, so I've got one for you, Kirkland and Griffin.
I'm going to each give you something to do.
I think you're going to enjoy this.
It's on a piece of paper, so I need to get a piece of paper for it.
-Let me get this piece of paper.
Now we're into puzzles time. Oh, my God! We're doing puzzles.
You see how enjoyable these guys are? I mean, they really are.
They don't want to be broken, they don't want to be upset.
They want contact that is meaningful.
I got a present for you. Here we go.
This is a good one.
No conferring with each other either.
So the idea is to see if there's a way to keep mental health
in their cell without having to be with them.
So we use a transitional object, something that represents me.
We'll see if you got that by Monday.
If you notice, I didn't just hand them pieces of paper,
I made contact with each of them.
We've had a nice interaction,
so that got them off the grumpy, kind of, I'm upset and everything,
and reconnected with them, engage with them.
And then I'll be there to follow up with this piece,
and they'll be all excited,
especially if they've accomplished this thing.
I want you to go in one direction,
-coming back the other way's another line.
-That's why I'm asking.
The other thing that they are unaware of is
the actual thing that they are working on
has clinical component attached to it
that I'll be using the next time I meet them.
Because the solution has to do with other ways of looking at problems.
It's very healthy to struggle. There's nothing wrong with struggle.
-So what have you got?
-How does a ball go in one direction, stop,
and go back in the opposite direction
without touching anything at all after it leaves your hands?
-Oh, OK, that's...
-You want me to tell you? Or do you want to try
-and figure it out?
-I always want to try to figure it out.
We can't just bury these guys.
As a psychologist, I'm looking into what is effective.
What works. Why do we keep doing things that don't work
or make things worse, why don't we figure something else out?
So every time I meet with them, you know,
it's much more of an uplifting kind of thing.
We'll goof with each other.
It goes in one direction, stops...
Goes back in the opposite direction.
Comes back in the opposite direction...
Without touching anything at all.
I'm not there to judge him.
And I don't have him just as being this nasty kid.
He doesn't want to end up where he knows he's going to end up.
He's a kid.
You're a smart guy.
And you've got a great smile. All right?
I'm done trying to be good. I'm going home in 90 days.
All I have to do is 90 more, and I'm done. I'm going home.
Yeah, my mental health diminished.
Slowly but surely, it will do it to anybody.
I lasted a while.
Now I just think, "Fuck it!"
They put me in the coldest cell of this whole prison...
I don't know, this is America, not Russia.
It's fucking cold in here.
All I know is if I can open a vein and throw blood all over myself
and refuse medical attention until I get a warmer cell.
Make myself bleed a little bit.
..I have an inmate with self-injurious behaviour.
I need A and B responders, and medical, please.
-We've got a bleeder!
-Put your hands here and I'll cuff you up.
This is bullshit.
-You need to calm down.
I've been fucking calm, I've been asking you all day.
I'm not going to sleep in a fucking cold room.
At this point, hollering at us is not going to do any better.
I'm trying not to.
-That blood is pouring out of him in the back,
you need to bring a medical, man.
-This is bullshit!
-Leave me alone!
Fuck medical, I want a fucking warm room.
I hate the cold.
I shouldn't have to fucking do this.
-How you feel?
You're going to a fucking put me in a fucking warm cell!
Stick around, there's more coming right up!
-We've seen Adam Brulotte deteriorate since he arrived in seg.
Was segregation the right place for a person like Adam?
Well, you just defined why we don't like to use segregation,
but sometimes it's necessary.
Mr Brulotte was engaged in some very,
very serious behaviour while he was in general population,
so, without a doubt, it was the right place for him.
Did he spend too long in seg?
You know, that's a real hard question to answer.
There's a lot of grey areas in some of the decisions that we make.
There's no exact science to any one of these guys.
You have to try to figure them out as we go along.
But ultimately when we're moving him back into general population,
we have to be certain that the staff are going to be safe,
the other inmates are going to be safe and that he's going to be safe.
Before you went to seg did you ever imagine
-that you'd cut yourself like that?
Never. I didn't know what it was.
I seen a couple of people doing it, so then I started doing it.
I try to be normal again.
Just the routine, every day, gets to you.
I've been down here four months.
I've got in trouble, like, 30 times.
I've been extracted umpteen times.
Flooded my whole room out a couple of times.
It's just stuff to pass the time away.
And I guess they don't like that, they think I'm crazy for it.
But you've got to do something.
We have some inmates that are incredibly dangerous.
But even those inmates we've got to work with.
We've been able to reduce our segregation population by 50%.
We saved about 1 million a year.
I'm very confident that this process is going to work.
And, obviously, if there's any negative outcome,
we're going to look at that negative outcome.
I'm absolutely convinced that what we're doing is going to work,
and it is working.
-1: State police have formally charged
a Maine State prison inmate with murdering another inmate.
-2: The police say Richards Stahursky
took two makeshift knives and stabbed convicted child molester...
-3: How is it possible a murder can go unnoticed,
an inmate beaten, tied up and stabbed 87 times?
-4: Investigators say Stahursky used a piece of
metal bed frame as a makeshift knife.
I've been locked up a little over 14 years,
and I've been in seg a little over 12.
What does that tell you?
I did six years in seg, do you know what they do?
They take me, put me right back out in population.
Instead of integrating me out there, they just threw me out there.
You know how I felt? I felt so weird just being around people.
I never felt like that before. You know what I mean?
Just having people walk behind me, having them just, like,
I don't know.
I kind of felt, like, real paranoid.
I'd go, "Is this dude going to try something?
"Maybe I should get him first."
I've never hurt anybody that I felt that didn't deserve it.
Staff members, any staff member I ever put my hands on,
I didn't stab any of them. I had multiple opportunities to.
I have not done that.
When I was done, I walked up to the desk,
the female that was on had her back to me,
threw the two shanks on the desk.
And I told her, I said, "I'm not here to hurt you."
I held my hands up like this, and go,
"I'm going to turn around. Put my hands behind my back, cuff me up."
I turned around, put my hands behind my back, she froze up.
I think she was, kind of, a little in shock,
she just didn't know what the hell was going on. She was like,
"Is that your blood? Is that somebody's blood? Is that yours?"
"Hello, don't ask no questions. Just cuff me up, call your code."
Am I a violent inmate? I can be, yes.
You put me in certain situations, I am going to be like that.
That's not no secret, though, anybody knows that.
We take an event like that extremely seriously.
But at the same time we recognise,
given that we're working with a very high-risk population,
the key is not to overreact
to an incident like that
and change an entire system,
or take a giant step backwards out of fear.
The mission of the Department of Corrections
can't just be about management or control.
It's got to be about mitigating risk,
and to mitigate risk you need treatment and programming.
To have treatment and programming, individuals can't be locked down.
They've got to be interacting.
So I think the key around that homicide, which was horrific,
was to treat it appropriately, hold the offender accountable,
but not sabotage a system that was moving in an appropriate direction.
There's going to be mistakes.
There's going to be missteps.
There's going to be major incidents.
But I do think it's working.
We're seeing a reduction in assault
and the numbers have continued to go down in the seg unit.
So that tells me that we're doing a better job at keeping people out
and of getting them out sooner.
I also think that we're doing a better job of equipping them
when they leave so that they have more of a chance of being successful
when they return to their housing unit.
I do have a different attitude from two years ago.
The programme that I've done since I've been in prison...
..taught me how to change my frame of mind.
These groups aren't just something to occupy your mind though,
these groups are...
supposed to help you change yourself.
So I can say part of it is to give me something to do, yes,
but these groups have also helped me see a better person in myself
than I was before, so...
Actually, going back a couple of years ago, my mind would go...
into these little circuits where it's like,
I'd be aggravated real quickly
or I'd be going into depression real quick like.
And I've been trying to work over the past two years to change that.
And as of right now, I could probably tell you,
I will never cut again.
I don't plan on it. I don't want it.
Some days do I actually think back on what I did?
Some days I've thought and said,
"Hey, yeah. I wasn't only hurting me, I was hurting some of the COs."
I was hurting inmates who had problems with it,
just staring at the blood.
I've hurt my family.
I don't think it was right for me doing any of it.
But, like I said, the past is the past, you can't change it.
Things just plain had to change.
We just plain had to change the way we're doing business.
Self-injurious behaviour in segregation hasn't stopped,
but we've significantly decreased it
largely by just not punishing it.
So that was the first change in culture,
that punishment doesn't work.
Now it's all about treatment,
how do we work together so that you get better?
And we will do whatever is necessary to make you better.
That's very mature. You're 20?
It's not "ma-chure", it's mature, I tell everybody that.
Mr Fickett is still pretty young,
so you still have a chance to look at some potential change for him.
So do you feel the same?
So he's been in seg four times, five times, but each time he leaves,
he's moved further. He's really, kind of, getting it.
He realises we didn't send him to seg to show him who's boss
and kick him in the ass, it's...
"You're going to seg because you really messed up.
"We're not going to let you hurt people.
"We're not going to let you do this.
"That's not helpful to you as a human being,
"it's not going to get you out of here.
"And we're going to stop you, and we'll stop you every time.
"And then we're going to move you forward again."
I want to move on.
I want to change myself.
I've changed over the past couple of years.
Where you're angry, depressed, to completely flipping it,
so you can actually do better for yourself.
It's just harder than it looks.
It's easier to talk about than it is to do.
BARACK OBAMA: The overuse of solitary confinement
across American prisons.
Social science shows that an environment like that
is often more likely to make inmates more alienated, more hostile,
potentially more violent.
Do we really think it makes sense to lock so many people
alone in tiny cells for 23 hours a day, for months,
sometimes for years at a time?
And if those individuals are ultimately released,
how are they ever going to adapt?
Monday morning, I'm getting released to the free world.
This sentence is the first sentence
that I haven't spent 90% of my time in seg.
I've done a lot of programming.
I've got a wife and kids out there now.
I guess it's the first sentence where I realised
this isn't the life that I want to live.
I mean, I've been in and out since I was nine.
Sometimes I wish I wasn't going home...
..because the anxiety is so bad.
For somebody like me, that's spent most of my life locked up,
it's easy to say, "All right, I'm going back to prison
"for however many years."
It's not easy to go back to the streets.
I definitely think that all the solitary time I've done,
it's changed me.
Maybe not permanently, but it won't be easy to change back.
I mean, as far as functioning in the real world,
I think it's affected me in extreme ways.
You know, I was out for six months
and I still couldn't go into Wal-Mart
without either being high or having a panic attack.
It may just be because I've spent so much time out of the real world,
but my honest opinion is because
it's because I've spent so much time in a cell by myself.
-Is that your pup?
-Yup. There's my dog.
-That's the one, huh?
I feel like I still carry it,
but I don't feel like it's going to affect me as much
as it has in the past.
I don't want to come back here again.
All I can do is take it one day at a time.
Try to do the right thing, and that hope it works.
There are going to be individuals that no matter what we create
for a system and how progressive we get, that we might not be able to
reduce their dangerousness to other individuals.
And we have to accept that reality.
But obviously it's a very small percentage of individuals
who you might
characterise as psychopathic,
which is an individual who really is willing to take a life
and there's very little impact on them emotionally.
With true psychopaths who have killed people, and will do it again,
I don't know that there is any good definitive treatment in the world
that's been developed. Psychopaths are very dangerous,
and danger doesn't necessarily mean they're big and threatening.
Sometimes they can be very coercive and nice
and are extremely dangerous and will hurt you.
Are you going to strangle me with my tie?
I would never do that.
Mr Stahursky has no problem killing.
There have been those that I've met where, literally, it doesn't matter.
They would see you as just a hunk of whatever
and don't recognise that when you're killing someone,
you're killing another human being.
-Do you think you're a psychopath?
No. I don't think I'm a psychopath.
I think I made some...
..serious, dangerous decisions in my life.
I guess everybody is like, "Oh, man, he's real dangerous."
So I can't go anywhere here without them thinking I'm Hannibal Lecter.
They don't trust me as far as they could throw me, I don't blame them.
But, no, I don't think I'm a psychopath.
I ain't crazy.
I'm just misunderstood.
I got arrested May 31st,
and I've been sitting here in max ever since.
Things unravelled faster than they ever have.
I mean, I don't know if it's just my seg time,
or all the time I spent locked up,
or maybe I am destined to rot in a cage.
I'm not somebody that should ever be left to his own thoughts.
Addicts feel that the drugs calls their name.
I feel that that razor calls my name.
I still think that the best thing for me is treatment,
some kind of help
because I overanalyse everything,
and I think everybody's out to get me and then I start cutting up.
I'm not normal.
Normal people don't dream about cutting themselves.
Normal people don't feel normal in jail.
In 2011, Maine State Prison launched a pioneering reform programme to scale back its use of solitary confinement. Bafta and Emmy-winning film-maker Dan Edge and his co-director Lauren Mucciolo were given unprecedented access to the solitary unit - and filmed there for more than three years. The result is an extraordinary and harrowing portrait of life in solitary - and a unique document of a radical and risky experiment to reform a prison.
The US is the world leader in solitary confinement. More than 80,000 American prisoners live in isolation, some have been there for years, even decades. Solitary is proven to cause mental illness, it is expensive, and it is condemned by many as torture. And yet for decades, it has been one of the central planks of the American criminal justice system.