Voices from Inside

A growing collection of letters from people in solitary confinement.

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No books, no television, no music, no way to contact the outside, I found myself surrounded by guys screaming obscenities through doors all day, beating on the desk in their cells all night, and fighting the hunger pains and depression that often drove a guy to paint his cell wall with his feces or bash his head into the wall repeatedly as he tried desperately to stop his mind from feeding on itself for lack of new stimulation.
Jody Hill
“No books, no television, no music, no way to contact the outside, I found myself surrounded by guys screaming obscenities through doors all day, beating on the desk in their cells all night, and fighting the hunger pains and depression that often drove a guy to paint his cell wall with his feces or bash his head into the wall repeatedly as he tried desperately to stop his mind from feeding on itself for lack of new stimulation.”
Unfortunately being caged so early in life I never had the chance to learn what I enjoyed as a young man, however, mostly I remember that I was at my happiness spending time with my family and friends.
Abron Shakir
In the closing of your article you asked about our experience in segregation. At this facility, if we are in contact with organizations such as yours… they would simply throw your mail away or not feed you for a meal or two. If they found out about the content of this letter, I would most likely be retaliated against.
Andraus McCloud
Its like you are treated less than human. There is no respect or empathy given toward an individual in Administrative Segregation.
Andrew MacLachlan
I was released from the grips of seg however the damage of seg is still with me. … The memories don’t go away. ... The mental effects are life long punishments.
Anthony McGowan
I have been through “the wringer” with racist while bullies in the MDOC since the beginning. The KKK turned in their robes for MDOC uniforms. Nobody is watching while they do their hate practices.
Anthony Richardson
Its all a mental test for you when in segregation and they will always test you for one reason or another.
Anthony Tolbert
The M.D.O.C. is the only prison system that we know of that’s getting treated like we not real people.
Antonnieo Ray
I have been blessed enough to face off face-to-face with the soul of this nation over the last 20 consecutive years of strenuously fighting for civil rights-n-human rights while loosing a chunk of my humanity-n-affections in the frames of inhumanity.
Antrell Brown (Islamic Ali)
The crazy thing is how officers and administrators get away with these abuses with impunity. There is simply no accountability. Prisons are like slave plantations in that we\'re property of the state and the state can do what they wish to/with their property.
Bantu (Dion Dawson)
I’ve been doing time since Jan 83. This bit is not my first. I’ve been in seg when it was alot better. Now its like they try to break you mentally. ...I dream of just being free, clean of this system. Being able to enjoy my life in society.
Brian Grimmett
In reading your article in MI-CURE, your definition of segregation, or isolation, “consists of (22) hours or more” confined to cell with “no meaningful human contact.” Now, I cant say that I know what constitutes “meaningfull human contact” in the minds of those in a position to define that phrase, but I can tell you it doesnt exist here in any litteral way.
Bradley Layman
However when I feel depressed I don’t tell anyone because I don’t want go to the hole. I hate it in there. I feel the walls closing in around me even as I write this about it. It is a horrible feeling to be so helpless.
Brian Peterson
What did i love prior to incarceration? My family. Being a dad. My career. I have four amazing children and now six grandchildren.
Brian Urbanawiz
The system is unfair for people of color. Solitary confinement is a strategy to break a prisoner down to nothing, its about hard punishment.
Carlos Luciano Varnado
Learning is a passion of mine. I like reading books of all sorts learning new things. The evolution of the universe fascinates me. The origin of the stars, moon, sun, galaxies, civilization. I also enjoy reading Black History. The journey of Black people overcoming adversity after adversity but remaining optimistic and persistent encourages me.
Carlton Williams
Clarence Herndon
I have been back to seg., in an entirely different role. I have been a prisoned observation aid for two years, watching at-risk suicidal prisoners. My previous experience gave me a sense of empathy for those I’ve watched on and off over the past two years.
Clifton Moffat
It’s funny but I dream of being a husband, a father (I am a father but being there every day of their life), being a home owner with a apple tree in the back yard.
Cortez Shisler
Time like this in the hole can caused stress, bad health, lost of weight and make some people starting talking to they self. It affects the contact we have in the world with out family & friends.
D. Brooks Jr
Solitary confinement/ segregation as it is currently operated is barbaric and uncivilized. Its unfathomable that such practices still exist in the 21st Century in what is claimed to be the most advanced and civilized country on earth.
Daniel Henry
I believe it would be effective if Open MI Door were to specifically focus of Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility and highlight the administrative arbitrary decision making and oppressive practices that keeps people housed in isolation at a rate significantly higher compared to every other facility in Michigan.
Da'Rell Winters
I seek to share with you my horrific psychological torments as well as I can. Though, I wish to make it clear–that theirs no segregation in MDOC worser than those at the current facility I am housed at this moment… (Baraga Correctional Facility).... here theirs more solitary confinement units than general population units!
Dale Clinton
Prison has forced me to withdraw from the world, since I have no friends, and being an “introvert” has become comforting to me.
Darrell Jarvis
I diligently seek change and being a Black man in America and identifying myself as a “revolutionary,” I overstand the challenge that lay before “us.”
Darryl Stewart
...Being in the hole do more damage than good. I can admit the hole has cause extreme and permanent damage throughout my duration. I’ve contemplated suicide. I suffer from severe depression and I hallucinate often. Me being in the hole worry my family + friends, not being able to communicate with them on a daily basis. It also deter relationships.
DeLawrence Billingsley
...this segregation Is Real hard on me, on Top of this I Have a Learning Disability, to me this segragation is to cut me off from every body that can help me ... This is not just Abuse But a form of torment.
Dennis Fyke
Our prison system is outrageous with they time they feel we need to do & the hole.
Denzel Berry
To what end has it proven that these no-touch torture chambers dont work? Unless they are trying to break mens minds, which if thats the case is working just fine. The longer someone spends in these cells the more likely they develope mental illness.
Denzell Farish
To what end has it proven that these no-touch tortune chambers dont work? Unless they are trying to break mens minds, which if thats the case is working just fine. The longer someone spends in these cells the more likely they develope mental illness.
DeShawn Foster
My solitary confinement experience is something I’d like to share with your campaign, but a very difficult and emotional thing to do. From 1997-2006 (from the time I was 17 years old til I was 26 years old the MDOC kept me in solitary confinement. I still have every single weekly / monthly review document and note related to my confinement.
Dontay McMann
I’ve seen people kill themselves in seg cause they’re not mentally stable enough to be alone. Not to mention, it takes you away from communicating with your love one’s so that can put a of stress on a person’s mental structure, not beig able to talk to their kids or parents. Just overall, we need to put a stop to solitary confinement in all states that have correctional facilities!!
Dwayne Taylor
Eddie Treadwell
“These people once they come to suicide watch … they are treated as less than human by the officers … most officers feel that this is a front, something that they just pretended … they don’t feed them, they figure, if we starve them, then they’ll hurry up and get up out of suicide watch … they don’t want to have to get up every 15 minutes to make a round to see if you’re dead or alive...”
god only knows when I will be able to [tell] my family when I want to or to have something to eat of my choice
Edgar Hoskins
I have not been treated like a human. They treat me right now like a animal, or savage that I’m not. I’m not being feed enough, or food not cooked fully, and they won’t allow me the buy a deodorant thats safer for me.
Erick Johnson
Through Mr. Perkins is not a prisoner of war, the Unchecked, unfair, Mistreatment of him only differs slightly from the  Mental torture Iraqi prisoners where subjected to not long ago. Why doesn’t he receive the same fair treatment as Some of those Involved and similarly situated have recieved…
Floyd Perkins
Garwood Turner
I am sick in the head, I know it, and I’m holding on the best I can… all I know is I will not do a crime, but I am like a ship in the dark, with no where to go, but I felt like that all my life, when I got out of the county jail, I can not concentration, I have sensory deprivation–I do not know how to have meaningful human contact–I know I am permanent damaged, but don’t know how to fix it, or if it can be fixed
Gene West
We not getting justice in here the chance of you beating a misconduct ticket is 0% in 20 years I never beat a ticket. I am not saying I did not do nothing but 35% of the tickets I was not guilty however, they still found me guilty. Prison lives do matter!
Howard Smith
Discrimination is a norm around here. Or treated like slavery. I refuse to get use to it or accept it. I never can get use to racism or or be treated like a animal.
Jamel Robinson
I was placed in solitary confinement several times. I was able to hold on to my sanity, but that experience took its toll on my mental state. The way we are treated is unconstitutional, harsh and in some instances deadly.
James Hardy
The reason I’m writing is cause I’m having a lot of problems with mental health staff and I am mentally and being held like I’m in seg... I really need help with my problems with mental health
Jeremy Cowan
I was a child who enjoyed people. I was energetic & loved to laugh. … As the years went by I became lost in segregation when I found myself there for a fight. I lay in that bed & lay there & ate, lay there & ate, I became lazy & dark. I began to cover my windows so no light could get in. I stopped caring. I still cleaned & exercised. I was in my own world. “My cell.” … Silence.
Jermaine Elem
Being treated worse then animals and you wonder why we act like animals. Pitting us against each other. I tell them “why dont you just go home and kill your puppies.” I mean most of them want us dead anyway, if they didn’t need us to get a paycheck.
John Melven
We are being deprived proper medical and dental care, when we speak up were told thank the govenor and the covid were limited to what we can do. Its extremely hard in segregation specially when you have mental health issues. But only the strong survive.
Johnny Hatfield
In segregation here people are treated worse than cruel people treat animals.  In both, Aspen & Birch we are under fed, denied showers, denied “clean up" stuff to clean our cells, denied access to legal research materials, subjected to sexual and general harassment...
Joshua Salyers
I love life and when this legal stuff is done, I’ll be happy. Nothing to be depressed, suicidal, angry & homicidal about. If you believe that you have to think to prove yourself or something that you feel of this sorts, your weak minded. I believe to solidify my legacy I ad to make the impossible into the possible.
Joshua Williams
Dignity. Erodes day after day. … The thirst was great so I drank from the toilet. This is what isolation does to ones dignity, to the humanity. I have become a dog that drinks from the toilet. Who knew this is what punishment looked like. Who knew that rehabilitation was not a right. Rather drinking from the toilet was more acceptable than changing ones thought processes.
Justin Gibson
I filed a 1983 Prisoner Civil Rights complaint on June 8th, 2020 that alleges actions of MDOC employees that violate first, fifth, sighth, fourteenth amendment rights via housing me in segregation / solitary confinement. I am a prisoner that deals with mental illness, as well as have a history of mental health conditions dating from the age of 16 (I’m now 31 yld).
Kevin Boone
the structural mechanisms of control and management of AMF prisoner is biased on on many levels. Contextually, the overall management / operation if AMF is deeply rooted in old habit; methods and practice. The very concept of evolving and maturing an agency of the MDOC is boned in both the philosophy and practice of draconian authoritarianism.
Kerwin Cook
as Covid-19 destroy’s our communities, prison uses it to the advantage to hold prisoner’s myself included in segregation until a time where they deem it ok to move you. So you now face the ugly truth of the fact you will be held against your will and rightfully against prison policy because there is an excuse to place across the board that was never available.
La'Vors Coates
This is cruel and unusal punishment. In Normal times, a prisoner per P.D. 04.05.120 page 3 of 13, paragraph P. A warden shall ensure that prisoners are not confined in Temp segregation for more than seven business days. But Heidi Washingten put out A DOM 2020-30R6 that allows prisons to hold us on Temp seg longer than policy Allows due to Covid-19.
Larry Adams
During SEG, I dealt with negative thoughts & depression, I felt hopeless & contemplated suicide & was send to observation cells. Ive talked with doctors, staff, pych’s & counselors who were of NO help excepted added agitation.
Lewis Parish
My name is Mansa Carvin and I have been on social and sensory deprivation for seven years. I’ve been allowed only one hour of recreation per day for the last seven year
Mansa Carvin
In the morning is was so quiet that you could hear yourself breath and so hot you would sweat like you were using drugs. You would feel so isolated that you will begin to have an out of body experience and befriend yourself. You talk to yourself (and sometimes you may answer), you fight with self, hell, you will even test yourself.
Mario Smith
I can feel the damage being done to me just about every day. This December will be 2 Years in confinement coming out my cell with handcuffs on. The Start Program was to stop confinement for psychiatric prisoners and get us back in General population and at Icf start program on A wing and B wing lower we are still confinemed to hour cells more then 20 hours a day
Mark Rowe
I’m housed at Baraga Corr. Fac. in seg, been in seg for 8 months now ticket free before I came to seg. I was 9 month ticket free trying to get my self ready to return home but when a officer see you trying to do the right thing (the one’s that dont like you or hold something againce you), set you up to send you to seg.
Martez Norwood
Through 2008 to 2010 I was housed at IBC. While there I was put into administrative segregation for approximately nine months because I spit on an officers pants. During this time, I was isolated in my cell for twenty-three hours a day, with the twenty-fourth hour being an opportunity to go outside (leave one cage to be locked in another!) While in solitary confinement I was not allowed to call my family at all
Matthew Sironen
They do foul thing to us on a daily base this have been going on for years and the one\'s above them know this but do nothing about it. How do we suppose to grow or think positive if we are being oppressed be the people that suppose to help us change.
Maurice McNeely
ONE THING I CAN TRULY SAY IS THAT BEING SEGREGATED OR IN SOLITARY CONFINEMENT TEARAWAY AT THE MIND AND SOUL OF AN INDIVIDUAL REHABILITATION. IT TOOK ME A FEW MINUTES (YEARS) TO GET MY ACT TOGETHER. I RAISE ABOVE MY EMOTIONS AND SURROUNDINGS TO BE ABLE TO HAVE A NORMAL STATE OF MIND TO DEAL WITH THE PRISON RULES, POLICIES AND PRISONERS PROBLEMS.
Mentwell Spivey
Before the guards would spray they would turn the ventilation system off therefore the mist of the spray would float to all of the cells and for the cells that were missed as soon as the ventilation system was turned back on the air would take the mist into the entire unit therfore leaving us gagging, watering eyes, crying, praying, etc While the guards would be in their space suits that protects them from the spray laughing at how we are responding to the pepper spray.
Michael Chapple
I did not realize that the virus would have such far reaching results. I was punished after testing positive, after staff brought it inside the compound at Thomas Correctional Facility! I am 64 years old! The virus hit me hard, and has had lasting effect.
Michael Danforth
Officers have called Black people Niggers and monkeys made monkey noises over the loud speaker even went so far as te telling Anti semetic Jokes over the loud speaker just for fun. Ive seen them use suicide watch protocol on inmates they didnt like. You are physically removed from your cell stripped and thrown naked into a cold cell while a camera is on you and you can be there for 2, 3 days or more.
Michael Mullins
Justice was not served, nore was it searched for. Any “conviction,” to entrap an ignorent, uneducated and unstabled (18) year old boy. In a recycling criminal system. No justice, in it. Understand the system is not, ”broken” It’s operating how slave owners designed it, too, extorting low level urban communities.
Michael Robinson
Evidently - negative tested prisoners - such as myself can’t give the C-19 virus to each other - if no one is sick - so it was brought in recklessly by JCF staff members & guys like me suffered because of it! I was so sick - I had a temp of 104.7 and was picked up by ambulance & almost didn’t make it. All because of this uncaring, careless, & negligent staff that we have here!
Michael Socorro
As long as you do not give in to them, you will always find ways to beat them, in one way or another, sooner or later. And even if they do find ways to weaken or kill your mind and body, your soul should be impenetrable and immortal. But your mission should be: not to die but to multiply.
Money Mont (James Miller)
I dream of justice and the prison official, public officials and court officials be prosecuted for the discrimination, misuse, and abuse of public funding and the pain, suffering, and trauama
Morris Weatherspoon
Dear people of the open my door im a prisoner in the start now program and im confined more than 23 hours per day I can feel it effecting my mental health I have mental health problems
Nicholas Spencer
The environment we are exposed to breeds and creates a necessity to think like and become someone we otherwise would never be. In my experience prison never makes anybody better. Im sure there are exceptions where people learn their lesson and change, however the large percentage of individuals change for the worse.
Paul Gross
They sometimes make inmates sit in the hole for protection needs but they are given the same treatments as inmates in the hole for behavioral reason. We get denied all type of property an more importantly hygein items, we are force to buy the cosmetic item they cant sell in general population because its bullshit, so they force us in the hole to buy it. At any rate I know inmates who have been in the hole for years and are still in the hole
Paul Richardson
We’re being subjected to food shortages because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. We’re being deprived of our calorie intake. All of our meals are being cut into half portions. Ad. Seg. Inmates have been placed on Quarantine twice in 2 months. Level One Kitchen workers are being infected by Covid-19.  Level One prepares All of Level 5’s Food. We received bag meals for 2 weeks, twice so far.  Bag meals consisted of, One milk, One Fruit, One Sandwich, Cup of Raw Vegetables. We\'re going hungry every day
Pyhillipe Garrett
I have experienced countless years of all contact being cut off from family, children, and any support from society, gased over 100 times with chemical agents, no heat in the winter, no ventilation nor cool air in the summer, the target of foul language, threats, and sour and spoiled food. You can’t imagine what’s really going on in here.
Quincy Howard
See truth is, am journeying upon dirt hills, stormy winds and heavy pours of rain in segregation, pacing back and forth, door to window, hoping to view something different. same blue and orange uniforms, shapes and body weights, demons and fakes. I scream for no one to hears, I cry but no one there to rub my back, I see it’s a man’s world in here.
Randy Collins
Who knows where I\'d be mentally, physically, and spiritually had I been outside in the free world going through my ordeal with mental illness as opposed to incarcerated... Unfortunately, in the Michigan Department of Corrections there is no striking a balance between proper mental health care and ... penological measures.
Roummel Ingram
Rufus Spearman
I urge you all to overstand that We are human beings, and We deserve to be treated as human beings. Please do not ignore or discount the deplorable, counter-productive and inhumane conditions that We are forced to endure in these torture units.
Rutikanga Akesi (Mario Lee)
I dream about being given the chance to clear my name of the crimes I have been convicted of. I dream about the girls I dated and the things I never got the chance to tell them. I dream about getting out of prison and one way or the other and to be able to continue the life I once started for myself.
Ryan Hankemeier
Sebastian
I often feel lost, withdrawal, anxiety, strong aggression, and in the past thoughts of suicide. But after reading this mans story [Solitary by Albert Wood Fox], I now know that I must fight. I will fight for my freedom, as I’m a innocent mun. I will fight for my, as well as others, constitutional rights. I will fight because I know I’m not in this corrupt ring by myself.
Serell Butts
Transitioning to the solitude and inactivity is at first tramatizing. It mentally strains you and for me with pre-existing anxiety issues it dramatically increases both anxiety as well as depression. You feel a sense of being cut off and helplessness. Not only is your comunication in everyday prison life reduced to almost none your communication to the outside is also.
Shane Studier
Administrative-segregation (or solitary confinement) is a form of departmental torture which causes incarcerated men and women permanent emotional and physical injury.
Shearod McFarland
To make it plain for you, staffs/the administration has become and operate as a close knit clan, encouraged by the warden/deputy-wardens to lie and deceive in order to protect each other, so they can keep this racial practice [false tickets] going against blacks - African American prisoners, here at Baraga prison…. And I am a Black African American prisoner…
Stanley Gibbs
The segregation policy itself is a joke. It talks about using staff who have shown an ability to work well in high-stress situations... in the hole they can call you bitches and rats and fags with impunity. They can deny you basics like hygeine, showers, yard. There is zero accountability.
Steven Wilcox
On November 3, 2015 me and my bunky jumped on two prison guards while we were at Chippewa Correctional facility, because he came into our assigned cell and tore up some of my family pictures. (and of course he has denied it). So they took us to their segregation… I spent 3 threes 8 months in segregation. I didn’t get out in tell July 18, 2019.
Thomas A.
I read what you rote and you gave Me Hope becuese as I write this letter to you I\'m In Solitary Confinement. I have This Mental Health Condition of (PTSD) and some other stuff Not two long ago I got gased with Chemican agents over My Mental health Condition becuse hear Voices and see deamons and they gased me and they never let the unit Porters clean my cell when and after I got gased.
Tommy Julian
My true passion has become exercise. I first began working out in 1999 and could barely muster up ten consecutive pull-ups! Now I hold records for the most consecutive pull-ups at six different facilities spanning from 2003 to the present. My goal is to become a personal trainer and nutritionist and ultimately to own my own fitness center.
Toronto Gardette
Currently, I am in solitary confinement. Its been 3 months ½ now. I’ve had all my legal documents seized without any paperwork. I’ve been assaulted on camera; officer slammed food slot on my arm. I’ve been COVID-19 negative for 3 months strong & just two weeks I was moved to a COVID-19 positive isolation unit. 5 days ago I was advised I was now COVID-19 positive.
Trinidad Paredes Jr.
At nights my stomach growing numb after 23 days enforced fasting and with the rebellion in my spirit fading as my body became weaker.  And no extremity in human life is greater than that of starvation, one of the slowest, most painful legalized torture that can be inflicted upon humankind.
Tunc Uraz
In the MDOC when an inmate is placed within solitary confinement with L.O.P or detention he or she may not receive outside recreation for a month which he or she is placed within a little animal lions cage, which is worst than the “solitary confinement” cell that he left out of. Just having the freedom to choose whether to go to recreation or not contributed to prisoners “mental health” and is very important. We need them to be in optimal health in mind, body, and spirit when they get out.
Victor Lindsey
These are the racist people in the States, they lie on you like its a game try to keep prisoners in here way past there out date. The Warden, deputy warden, c/o that all the same, and seg you are treated worse than an animals. They don’t like to work so when it’s time to take a shower they turn the fan on you in the shower with the outside door open in the winter time. Guys are lock down twenty three hours a day on Saturday and Sunday twenty four hours a day.
W. Sanders
If you tell a man to do good but don’t give him the tools necessary to do so, then how can he? Michigan is 1 of 4 states in the US that does not offer good time credits to prisoners. What that means is even if you go years without getting in trouble or earn numerous positive certificates you can never earn credit for time off your sentence.
Zachary Burns
Jonathan Lancaster