Former prison chaplain recalls visits to “the hole”

To the Expositor:

The editorial published on September 11 (‘Solitary confinement inappropriate for at-risk inmates,’ page 4) brought back many memories for me. I have never spent time in administrative segregation but I did visit the “hole” many times as a prison chaplain in the federal system. It was a profound experience.

As Brett’s documentary indicated, this is a complex/complicated issue for those who live and work inside a correctional facility. There are a plethora of reasons for why segregation is utilized and in some case sought by the individual. Hence, it may not be readily understood by the general public.

The documentary compared many models of why and how, but it would also be important to consider the differences between the US and Canadian systems. Corrections is not static and changes have evolved that reflect an attempt to maintain a humane environment for those marginalized inside an institution.

Segregation is a very significant issue but is there a reasonable alternative? I believe we are still hacking at the branches of such issues and not the roots. The problems faced by a criminal justice system begin much earlier in the homes and communities of a nation.

Arn Main