This is a campaign to attempt to receive contact visits with our loved ones. I would like to request everyone to please sign and email.
Email; Chistopher Epps Commissioner
Emmitt Sparkman Deputy Commissioner
Correction Committee Members
Christopher Epps, Mississippi Corrections,
I write this on behalf of the men and woman who need to have an opportunity to have contact visits with their families, loved ones, and children. It is said that a newborn baby will die without human contact. So too will the spirit of an adult if not given the same opportunity.
Especially in considering that despite the fact that “Death Row” inmates are sentenced to death, the law requires that all individuals be “treated equally.” This is not about “Guilt or Innocence” because the Penalty Phase of their lives has already been decided and thus far all everyone perceives is to deceive themselves that Deathrow Inmates deserve more punishment than the law has dictated!! ...
We’re not campaigning for anything other than to have them recognized as human beings who required more than just to hear there family’s voice. ... All I ask is that all death-row inmates (not just a few) be allowed to have contact visits even if it’s on a trial basis.
These contact visits could be used as a behavioral modification program. My suggestion is if the inmate has displayed appropriate behavior that he or she earn a contact visit every three or six months. In my personal belief this could be a beneficial in maintaining order.
Currently they are released from their cells 10 hours each week—two hours a day for five of seven days—and shuttled into the recreation area, which is a larger cage. (Two days a week, they remain in their cells 24 hours.) They exercise individually, though they can talk to an inmate in the neighboring recreation cage, one of their few opportunities for conversation. For the other 158 hours of the week and 8,216 hours of the year—94 percent of their lives—inmates waste away in their cells, isolated, trying to keep themselves from going insane.
Death row isn’t designed to be pleasant. It’s still a maximum-security prison. But a growing body of research suggests this kind of extreme isolation amounts to torture.
Prolonged isolation can ravage the psyche—causing or exacerbating mental illness. A 2003 study of the isolation unit at California’s Pelican Bay prison by Craig Haney, a psychologist at the University of California-Santa Cruz, reports that two-thirds of inmates in solitary confinement talk to themselves and nearly half suffered from “perception disorders, hallucinations, or suicidal thoughts.” Research by Stuart Grassian, a Boston psychologist who has interviewed hundreds of prisoners, found that about one-third of inmates in solitary confinement develop severe mental illness. These same effects have cropped up in military prisons. Of all the U.S. “enhanced interrogation” techniques utilized on detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, the most devastating were psychological; prolonged isolation and blaring music eroded prisoners’ sanity.
While recent studies have filled in the details, we’ve known for a long time that extended isolation can lead to madness. For most of the last century, American jailers considered solitary confinement inhumane. Prisons used it largely to discipline inmates; stints in solitary were short. The nation’s first “supermax” facility—in which inmates are kept in long-term solitary—wasn’t built until 1989, when California opened its Pelican Bay prison. The trend caught on fast. Forty states and the federal government now operate either supermax prisons or special segregation units in which prisoners remain in their cells at least 22 hours a day, according to a study by Florida State University. At any given time, between 25,000 and 100,000 U.S. prisoners are serving time in either permanent or temporary solitary confinement. That number continues to increase, according to prison reform groups.
The conditions of isolation are harsh and degrading. For many, the absence of normal social interaction, of mental stimulation, of exposure to the natural world -- of almost everything that makes life human and bearable -- is emotionally, physically and psychologically destructive. No other Western democracy imposes such conditions of confinement for prolonged periods on so many people.
And segregation can last for decades. Principled leadership, careful staff training and effective internal-review processes can help. But external, independent scrutiny is also needed to prevent abuse and give inmates recourse against arbitrary and unfair treatment.
Please take careful consideration of my request. Currently there are eleven Death Row prisons in the United States, that allow contact visits. As it stands in Mississippi, the only time anyone will touch there loved one, is after his body is claimed.
Michelle Schmude started this petition with a single signature, and now has 281 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.