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I first experienced a kind of solitary confinement in juvenile detention when I was 13 years old. I was ruled by sorrow, fear and anger: Sorrow about missing people I used to know, and my mom. I know that solitary confinement caused me considerable psychological damage — or really, added to what was already brewing. Like most people who have served time in solitary as teenagers, I will someday be released from prison and resume life in the free world.
I realize that prisoners, even young ones, sometimes need to be separated from one another for safety reasons. On any given day there are hundreds, and probably thousands, of kids under 18 in solitary confinement in America’s jails, prisons, and juvenile detention facilities. This entry was posted in News, Voices from Solitary and tagged children in solitary, Enceno Macy, Juveniles, Juveniles, Psychological Effects, Psychological Effects, Solitary Confinement. I suggest reading this report and you’ll see that all the terminology and methods are taken right out of the adult system. Edward Bunker found himself in the position of prey while he was held in LA’s notorious County jail at 16 years-of-age.
He was forced to attack a mass murderer in the showers while he was there or become his bitch. Page 41: “I stared into the thick black steam, holding the toothbrush tight and ignoring the water wetting my pant legs. Alone in the last shower, he had shampoo in his hair and his face was turned up into the stream of water.
Before he could recover, I pounced, swinging the toothbrush handle with the protruding razor blade. Mike realized that it was just a matter of time until he was targeted so he took preemptive action and lured the leader of the group into a room. The dude approached Mike confidently like a real bad ass convinced that Mike was no threat to him but he was stunned when Mike cracked him across the face repeatedly with the mop handle. The guy quickly recovered his composure then grabbed Mike by his two legs and tried to pull him out from under the bed in order to get at him. Mike struggled to break free from the guy’s grip until he was finally able to grab a hold of his razor and begin to slash at the dude’s eyes causing so much blood to flow into them that it blinded the guy and forced him to release Mike’s feet. The bulls came running into the cell at about that point and took Mike away in shackles chained from the waist to his ankles. Man, I mean, everyone gasped when they saw this dude, bandaged up like some kind of Egyptian mummy.
Some weeks later we heard Mike yell out as he was being escorted out of the hole “Hey guys catch you later. Although he was not involved Mike ended up unconscious in the hospital shackled to the bed. We would get sent to lockdown for bad language or being too loud, or for forgetting to ask permission to talk, get up from our seats, or change the card game we were playing — basically, for acting like kids.

We had so little to do, we’d end up yelling insults at the guards just to vent our anger and restlessness.
It encouraged me to retreat deep into a demented reality where I was so alone, it made me feel as though I wasn’t meant for this world. But I don’t think they should be put in segregation for things like talking back or being late for an appointment. I know what they are suffering, and I wonder how many of them, like me, will bear the invisible scars of their isolation.
I was researching this yesterday because I have spent time in solitary in each one of these begining at the age 0f 10. Los Angeles County had completed a study under which it determined that 50% of the youth entering the system needed mental health services, and staff estimated that perhaps one quarter of those in need actually received care. Staff labeled much of this behavior as “manipulative,” without mental health professionals talking with the youth to address their behavior and underlying emotional issues. His skinny little white body was pitted with acne, his arms covered with blue jailhouse tattoos. It got him high on the back, near where the neck begins, and sliced down about six inches before is movement carried him out of the blades arc. Fingers dug into both cheeks and my eyes and tore me loose, gouging out flesh as I was hauled back. Mike was also held in the overcrowded, racially charged, atmosphere of Los Angeles County Jail at the age of 17 sometime in May of 1966 just after the Watts riots of August 1965. Both Greg and Psycho were still exhibiting the effects of pumping iron during their time in the joint when I met with them.
Attacks on whites were becoming an every night occurrence with one after another of us falling victim to these mother fucker’s. The handle soon splintered into useless toothpicks forcing Mike to take cover but the man never even wobbled although he was clearly disoriented. Mike held onto the leg of the bed with one hand and tried to get his razor out of his pocket with his other. Mike was held in a separate room and questioned as the medics frantically worked on the other guy’s wounds in the clinic down the hallway.
Then the bulls went to get your brother and we all held our breath wondering who the fuck could have given this huge mother fucker such a horrific beating. More than 10 years later, I think some of the effects have faded, but my panic attacks are so severe that they put me on anti-depressants for PTSD.
And I don’t believe solitary confinement as it is practiced today is ever appropriate for teens.
It may be too late for us, but there is still time to save countless other children from this silent torture.
He wishes to thank his mother and Solitary Watch for encouraging him to write and assisting in the publication of this work. At the time of our tours, the County was making plans for reform and awaiting secured funds for additional staff and other improvements.

Doctors wrote orders for a number of youth who engaged in self-harming behaviors to receive behavior modification plans.
Chessman sent over to Bunker’s cell (via a sympathetic guard) a copy of Argosy Magazine in which the first chapter of his book appeared. Bunker also wrote that he was very happy that he had not been there after the riot after hearing first hand accounts of what went on thereafter. There were gangs of blacks beating and raping a different white guy in the dorm every night. It was a race to see if Mike could retrieve his weapon before the guy could pull him out and if he had the dude probably would have slammed your brother’s head against the wall. After stitching the man’s wounds up on both his face and his arms the wounds were wrapped up in gauze. When your brother was brought in seemingly struggling against the weight of his shackles the whole unit burst out laughing because we had all expected to see some kind of fierce giant foaming at the mouth not some skinny teenage white boy. Keep the faith home boys.” With that Mike was lead out and transported to Deuel Vocational Institute in Tracy, California.
I know that in some juvenile facilities, children get locked down for weeks or months at a time. Back then I wasn’t skilled in identifying my emotions, let alone dealing with them appropriately. But I did think about death a lot, and I had dreams of an apocalyptic world (and still do).
Tracy is a notoriously violent adult prison and Mike arrived just in time for a race riot lead by George Jackson himself. In the wire cages we sometimes went to for exercise, the space was not much bigger than the cell. They need some kind of program where they get counseling and periods to exercise their minds and emotions. The “Behavior Modification Contract of the Special Handling Unit” is not a behavior modification contract in any therapeutic sense. The rape of a white inmate by a black inmate resulted in the gruesome murder of the rapist. The stress and trauma of prison cause huge disconnects between what young people think and what they feel. He turned to reach for a towel that had been thrown across the half-wall separating the rows of showers. I listened intently with a mixture of brotherly pride and awe as they paid homage to Mike’s actions. I jumped on his back, grabbed his hair from the rear, and slammed my fist against the side of his head.

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