Saturday, November 8, 2014

Solitary Ray

Solitary confinement in a state prison isn’t exactly a cakewalk.  You could go for months or years without seeing the sky or the trees. Your meals will be left in the hall for hours and finally be delivered to you cold and spilled all over your tray. You are utterly alone hour after hour day and day after day. Nothing ever changes – it’s just you and your cell.
In your cell you have a toilet, a shower, a bed, a T.V.  and the four walls.
You are just there - often not knowing for how many months or years it will last. “Not knowing” can be the hardest part. When prisoners are finally sentenced, they feel relieved because they have a number to shoot for even if it turns out to be ten years.
The challenges of solitary are different than being mixed into the general prison population. In solitary, there is no one holding a knife to your throat in the middle of the night, or someone trying to steal your socks right off your feet. In prison, you don’t know if the guy next to you is there because he cheated on his taxes or he’s in for murder. 
But in solitary you can forget what it’s like to have a conversation with people. You can get to the point where the sight of a person or the sound of a human voice will frighten you or make you so angry that you’ll pound the door with your fist and crush your knuckles in the process.  You might have to wait to see a doctor. He only comes once a month.
A person in solitary is at risk of losing his hold on reality as he’s known it. Guys who are doing time don’t like to think about the “outside,” because it makes them too sad.  You can only survive in prison by developing a routine and training yourself to stick to it. 
Ray does 650 pushups a day and pours through the emuna books that we send him in English. He says that they are literally keeping him alive. 
Beside for his mother, I’m the only human contact that Ray has. We’re allowed to speak on the phone once a day for 15 minutes...Continue here... 

Wishing you the greatest blessings,
Dr. Zev Ballen