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Shawna Speaks on Solitary Confinement

The following transcript was compiled from phone calls made over a period of time by Shawna Forde to a friend.  Most of this came after she had spent over a month "stripped out," where she was deprived of all of her property in her cell, including clothes, paper and pencil, books, radio, US Postal mail, reading glasses and legal documents; this in addition to being held in solitary confinement.  All of this was in violation of her Constitutional rights as a pre-trial detainee.

Transcript—Shawna on Solitary Torture


I’m going crazy!  [I’ve had a] bad couple of days. You know what?  I’m being tortured!

It sucks!  Are you kidding me?  Sometimes it’s hour by hour I have to pull myself through.

It breaks you down, you become more sensitive, and then when your only contact with other human beings is COs…[Corrections Officers]

It’s like have somebody come up and poke you in the middle of the forehead and tell me how long you can stand that until it starts driving you crazy…because that’s what it feels like to me. 

It’s like, no human contact, except through the trap, or when I get to see my attorney.  And then you get a CO that has an attitude or a power trip, you know, that just f****s with you, you know, because they can, and…it’s HARD!

All the books here…they’re all about murder and crime!  I wrote something about that.  And people wonder why inmates leave jail enraged and then become worse criminals than when what they started out to be…

Well, I have some pretty good theories on that.  When you isolate somebody for long periods of time, and then their only choice of reading material is books about murder and crime, I mean, it’s kind of like an inundation, you know! 

And then society can’t figure out why people leave jail so angry and then re-offend.  But then, after you go through a prolonged period, you get this rage of being mistreated, and you like fall through the cracks here. 

And I think what amazes me too, is that in prison, it’s like a Holiday Inn!  (In jail) you’re supposed to be innocent until you’re proven guilty; in prison, you’ve already been condemned and judged, but they have more rights in prison than what they have in jail! 

The thing is, I worked on a campaign for sheriff, I was the Chief of Police’s campaign manager, I have a lot of friends that are cops, I used to be 100% on their side, and I used to feel real judgmental towards criminals, and the system, and this and that, but I think now like actually coming and living on this side of it, it’s like wow!  What an eye-opener for me!

I’ve been on status [Administrative Segregation, usually solitary) for 7 months, and I didn’t do anything to deserve that status, [she obeyed all the jail rules] and second, they have me on Isolation status, so that means I am not allowed to talk to another human being!  And this is going on 9 months now.  So, OK, if they want to keep me on status (Administrative Segregation), they need to lift the ISO (Isolation)!  Because it is torture, you know I’m not gonna sit here and be a willing victim!

Just like, every day, you know, it’s like a struggle, every, every day, a constant struggle, just trying to figure out what…you know, and then…

If you could just imagine…lock yourself in a bathroom, take all your stuff out of that bathroom so that you have nothing, and stay in there for 23 ½ hours, and only allow yourself 30 minutes to come out, and that’s the time you have to choose to use the phone or take a shower.  And then you have to go back to your bathroom, shut the door and lock it.  Do that for 2 days, and then you might get a taste of what I’m going through, going on 9 months.

I’ve already accepted the fact that I’m going to be here for 10 months.  I mean, honestly, I’ve already accepted that, OK?  I know, but I have to; if I don’t, it will just make me even more crazy, if I don’t like surrender to the fact that this is what it’s gonna be.  I mean, hey, if something else happens, then it’s a blessing, but if nothing else happens, then it is what it is!

It’s nice that I can call you.  I mean, it really helps, to have a conversation with somebody.  And I really, really, appreciate it more than  you ever probably know!