Life In A Bathroom: Experience Solitary Confinement

A prisoner, we’ll call him Brandon, is locked up in Uinta 1. A Supermax in Utah, he is in solitary confinement, a space about the size of a typical American bathroom, a detail he uses meaningfully to help his blog’s readers understand how physical and psychological deterioration may happen in an isolation cell.

Brandon writes:

Go to your bathroom. Lock yourself in and kick a hole in the door. Get rid of any personal hygiene supplies. Keep a toothbrush and toothpaste. Get rid of everything else.

Turn your bathtub over. That’s your bed. Watch as the light switch and shower faucets disappear. In there place is a small speaker. It listens. It talks to you. Sometimes it laughs and taunts.

The lights stay on. You shower in the sink.

Voices are outside the door. The sounds remind you of the man who robbed your mom’s house, He beat and raped her. You listen carefully. You hear his voice. And his lawyer’s.

People who wish you harm have moved into your house while you sit in the bathroom. Your death brings them joy. The enemies outside the door will bring you food. And mail. Good luck.

The same enemies control the heating. They have control of the air conditioning. They determine when the water in your sink — and toilet — flows. If they catch you sleeping, they kick the door. Waking you. They laugh and yell.

The same men are outside your door — day and night. You smell them. They’re smoking. Barbecuing and you’re hungry. They’re torturing people. You can hear the cries and shouts. Other people in bathrooms next to yours are pulled out and folded into body bags. All for the squatters’ amusement.

A day passes.

“My god,” you shout. “What have I done to deserve this?”

A week goes by.

You cry.

One month.

Attempting suicide doesn’t work. Your veins close before death.

One year.

You’re talking to yourself and staying naked. The food, halfway edible, is poisoned. Or so you believe. Your beard and mustache make eating the rotten meat difficult. You can’t cry.

Two years.

You’ve forgotten, but don’t know what you have forgotten. You don’t know. The squatter enemies come and look at you looking at them looking at you. They laugh. You begin to laugh also. You forget why.

Three years.

Sleep consumes twenty-hours a day. You can’t help it, but your floor is clean. It’s spotless. You’re skinny. You’ve lost sixty-pounds, and your skin is yellowing. Your legs cramp and atrophy. You don’t want to die because you’d prefer to sleep and dream. The dreams are vivid. More real than the walls.

Five years.

You go home. This is the year you leave your bathroom. Now you don’t want to leave. You like your tub and sink. You miss your bathroom. It is a getaway from the drama and bullshit of daily prison life. You had a shower. You had your routine.

It doesn’t matter what section of the prison you are in. You are still in prison.