Friday, March 7, 2014

SHU Hurts Inmates' Families, Too

I straddle a parallel universe. While I wake up each morning to a world of “freedom,” making my own choices in how to live out the next 24 hours, my husband wakes up to a world of confinement, caged in a cell, with his actions dictated by a conglomerate of characters and policies fit for no man, or woman.

Since the beginning of this year a particular female officer landed in his unit on the morning shift, and nothing good has happened since. She is an abusive provocateur who enjoys inciting discomfort, anxiety, and fear in both inmate and staff. What she incites is seething anger and defiance, and he is fearless.

She has made his life miserable and has the power and authority to do so. The culture of prison staff is to support each other however wrong their actions are.

It is Friday morning, and I woke up to the knowledge that Darrell is in segregation/ isolation after being found guilty of a “major infraction,” a concocted “official version” of the truth based on a bully’s perspective of how to treat another human being. He will now lose more good time, our one-hour visits will be behind glass, he will lose his job as laundry porter (where he works 6 hours a day, five days a week making $18/month of which 20% is taken for the cost of incarceration), and he will sit in a cell 23 to 24 hours a day for an unknown length of time, at the whim of his jailers.

My insides roil and turn and burn with disgust at the abuse of this system called “corrections.” My mind sketches out scenarios of demands that I’m going to make and angry words I will use against the authorities. And then I think of the retaliation they will perpetrate on him.

And there remains only tears and silence because the truth is I can do nothing.

I am helpless against this world and the actions of a system of oppression and abuse. The predicament he faces behind the insular walls of secrecy, deprivation, and abuse is a violent construct of inhumanity like no other, designed to keep me, you, us, out of its business.

Written by Suzanne Gordon Cook

Promising news regarding solitary confinement is published in "Legal Victories" blog:

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  1. Thanks for posting, Mary. It is a system where staff jobs are more important than the humans their jobs are for. The system is sick and broken and we ALL must come together to either radically change it or completely dismantle it.

  2. We thank YOU, Suzanne, for allowing us to publish your testimony about how you feel knowing that your husband is being tortured in solitary confinement. I am sure your words resound with families across the nation, and you stated it so well. Please be encouraged by reading "Limiting Solitary Confinement in Corrections" in my Legal victories blog. Winds of Change are blowing!

  3. "Family Visitation Providers" Providing private and group transportation services to incarcerated love ones throughout the state of Florida. We are diligently working to bring you more routes and the best rates to help you stay connected to your incarcerated loved ones. We need your help! Please help us by spreading the word to other families! All prison trips requested will be added to our monthly schedule. Any questions or concerns please email
    Phone: (305) 928-0363