With these matters firmly in mind we can now consider how the plaintiffs
explained the effects of solitary confinement.
Andy Bruce described the hallucinations he suffered during the two- year
period in which he was in solitary: 'You see things and people you know
aren't there. You try to tell yourself it isn't happening.'66
He spoke of a recurring dream in which he picked up a book and read several
hundred pages, of going to steep and waking to find himself reading the
pages again and wondering whether he had ever read them in the first place.
After a while the distortion of reality 'gets a hold of you: and it became
clear to him that he was going 'stir-bugs.' When he was in solitary he
found it impossible to concentrate. People's speech made no sense to him.
Words would come at him, but they were separate, they did not hang together.
When reading, he said he would 'read half a sentence and then chase the
rest of the sentence around the page.'67
He gave evidence that when Tommy McCaulley 'went to pieces, I went a little
crazy too, because I saw what it was doing to my friends.'68
He said that he saw himself starting to slide and that he slashed himself
on several occasions.
When Andy Bruce was asked how he coped with being in solitary, his answer
had a chilling ring to it: 'It was strictly a hate score. You get twisted
about it, your frustration turns to hate towards the guards and all the
people who keep you there.'69 For Andy Bruce
this sustaining force of hatred was something he took with him during
his brief return to the population.
You start hating a lot, that's the only way I kept
it away from me, you know, going buggy. That was really the big reason
why I couldn't function when I got down [in the population] because after
being up there for so long, and like I say, you got to hate, you got to
hate them all the time, and you come down to the population and you know
it's just a completely different scene, you just can't get along, it seems
you can't get along unless you're hating somebody, unless you're really
bitter, like I couldn't get along, conversations and stuff like that,
I couldn't fit into them and people talk to you and that, and I just couldn't
handle it. So used to just being bitter.70
Ralph Cochrane and Walter Dudoward also described the build-up of hatred
and bitterness while in SCU. Even after his release, Cochrane told the
court, 'my feelings of hostility will never leave, but I fight it because
I realize my own bed of bitterness can destroy me.'71
Cochrane described for the court how in SCU his 'sense of time deteriorated,
action became slowed down, awkward, mumbling, everything became dull,
nothing alive happened up there.'72 Dudoward
said he became very paranoid and found himself 'spinning.' He coped with
solitary 'by just negative feeling, by hating.'73
Dudoward talked of the continuing torment he endured after coming down
from solitary. The noise of Tommy McCaulley banging on the cell door was
a constant reminder of what was happening up in SCU. He said that the
hatred and the bitterness still remained with him and had given rise to
a deep resentment of authority which, notwithstanding his criminal record,
had never been there prior to his experience in SCU.74
Jake Quiring told the court that after months in solitary he became very
'emotional' and felt that he was out of control.75
Melvin Miller told the court that after a time in solitary he would see
holes in the cement wall start to move around the cell; that in solitary,
'except when you have visits, you never get to see the grass or the sun.
The only way you know it's raining is by the sound of the rain on the
roof.' Unlike their predecessors in history - the men in solitary in Pentonville
Penitentiary - prisoners in SCU are denied the privilege of seeing the
clouds scud across the sky in front of the moon. Miller described the
effect solitary had on him.
If I put myself back to the circumstances I'm afraid
I'm going to offend you. I'm afraid you won't understand. How in hel1
do you cope with loneliness in a god-damned cell 23½ hours a day
with the light burning on you. You get severe headaches. You feel hate,
frustration. I can't say just how fucking bad this is and the effects
it has on other prisoners. You see people slash themselves and the guards
say he's just looking for attention. Beat me, break my arms, I can handle
that. But how do you cope with insanity? You have no idea in the world
the effects it has on you. I've known of men who beat their heads against
the wall. You don't have anything. You don't know how long you'll be there.
You have no reasons ...I've been down [from SCU] for 20 days and I can
still see that goddamn light.76
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