MIDWAY, Texas, Aug. 16 (UPI) — Years-long prison programs of “administrative segregation” in Texas and elsewhere are coming under attack for driving inmates crazy, critics say.
More than 5,000 inmates in Texas are locked in so-called ad-seg for 23 hours a day — sometimes for decades — in cages that measure 9 feet by 7 feet, The Houston Chronicle reported Tuesday.
Many of them are “confirmed” gang members, and the only way out is to renounce their affiliations, an act many fear would result in retribution worse than their current living conditions, the newspaper said.
“We ain’t the most likable or most welcomed group in society,” Anastacio Garcia, 38, who has been in isolation for 15 years, told the Chronicle. “We sit here day in and day out, basically rotting ourselves away.”
The American Civil Liberties Union argues “ad-seg” imprisonment is cruel and only serves to make inmates more dysfunctional by the time they are let out.
But supporters of the policy note inmates have access to medical and mental healthcare, as well as counselors and ministers.
“Do not have sympathy for these men,” a retired guard who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the newspaper, saying inmates are fed three times a day and often fare better than the homeless.
Others say ad-seg inmates have no life whatsoever.
“I live among the living dead,” Danny Corral, 32, who was convicted of murder at age 16. “This cell is not very different from a mausoleum.”
“This type of isolation is pervasive around the country,” said Amy Fettig, ACLU’s senior counsel for the national prison project. “It is now being used at an unprecedented level. Unfortunately, when you place somebody in (ad-seg) you are not teaching them how to be a better person. You are simply driving them crazy.”