( 1) How did I survive my experience?
(A) I survived my experience with death row and solitary confinement in particular by not over burdening myself with my circumstances. I didn’t allow my circumstances dictate my life. I knew that I had to fight everyday for my life, but I knew also that I had to live while fighting as well. So I never over burden myself with the thoughts or possibilities of the state of Texas murdering me. It was my choice as to how I wanted to respond to the injustice that was taking place in my life and I chose to live instead of overburdening myself with the possibility of death.
(2) What was the most difficult aspect?
(A) I don’t know how quite to answer that question but if I had to focus on one single thing I guess it would just be the inability to come and go as you chose, sort of the physical restriction to such a small space to live life. I was in a small cage no more than about 60 square feet and I was restricted to that area 22-24 hours every day without television, etc. or any form of human contact.
(3) Were you able to read?
(A) I would imagine that Oscar Wilde, the Count of Monte cristo and others were right in their assessment regarding the negative effect the absence of reading material can have on a man in solitary confinement, but for me we were allowed reading material, and that’s how one would discover a world in which he could live in- between the pages of a book.
(4) Why do I think that solitary confinement has been so embraced in the US prison system?
(A) I think that old habits are just hard to die, and this country was built upon a lot of old bad habits. Our prison system has built an image up on harsh punishment ,you see it in old black and white films, with prisoners having a ball and chain around their ankles breaking bricks, and eating very little…Our prison system hasn’t strayed away from that image at all, because it comes from a place that shows a lack of respect for human dignity, and unfortunately as I said; old habits are just hard to die. They are habits that have caused men, women and children their lives, and in our prison system those habits are causing men, women and children to lose their minds.
(5) Did it actually make the prison safer in my opinion?
(A) When you have designed a system to break a man’s spirit, his will to live then that can never be a safer solution. Men are literally becoming a shell of themselves housed in solitary confinement- does that sound like a safer solution under any circumstances? common sense says that the argument doesn’t make sense.
I would like to ask the people that are reading this article to get involved by writing to your local state representative and any other elected official in office and ask them to stop the barbaric practice of solitary confinement. I was wrongfully convicted for 18 years, and spent most of those years in solitary confinement. I am one of a very few who survived the horrors of such inhumane practices, but it was not an easy journey. Today I travel across the globe sharing my story about an injustice that almost cost me my life and the conditions I was housed in that I seen costing many their sanity. Please go check out my website: anthonybelieves.com and support me as I stand up for justice.