Justice Rountree: Solitary confinement must be ended

NJ-CAIC organizer and solitary survivor Justice Rountree writes for the Asbury Park Press:

I served 23 years inside New Jersey prisons and jails, and I witnessed firsthand the damage caused by inhumane housing practices. I witnessed the dilapidated conditions of these “restrictive housing” units, which housed not only humans, but rats, mice, roaches and mold. I watched strong men mentally deteriorate, and I watched sick men become swallowed up by their physical and mental illnesses. As a paralegal, I represented people who were at risk of prolonged isolation not just for violent behavior or institutional safety, but also for petty, political, or even retaliatory reasons.

I spent a total of five years in isolation. I counted and re-counted every crack in the ceiling. I survived the extreme cold of winter, the extreme heat of summer, the haunting screams of other isolated people, and the eerie silence that nearly convinced me I was alone and forgotten.