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Prison director calls solitary confinement cruel, others disagree

He spent 20 hours in solitary confinement to experience the practice

Prison director spent 20 hours in solitary confinement

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The new executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections spent 20 hours in solitary confinement to experience the practice, which he calls cruel. But family members of victims killed by prisoners have no sympathy for the inmates who go through it.

Rick Raemisch, the director of the Colorado DOC wrote about his experience in solitary confinement in a New York Times opinion piece. In it, he describes the 7-by-13 ft. room with only a steel bed, toilet and sink screwed to the floor. He also talks about the mental anguish it caused. In a press conference Friday, he said boredom was one of his biggest struggles.

"Just the sense of losing all time, had no idea really, what time it was throughout the whole experiment," he said.

Raemisch wants to reduce the use of solitary confinement and he wants some sort of transition for inmates so that they're not released directly from solitary.

Evan Ebel, the man accused of killing Raemisch's predecessor, Tom Clements, spent eight years behing bars, much of it in solitary confinement. He was released on parole in March 2013, directly from solitary.

Raemisch wasn't surprised by his experience.

"I've felt for years that solitary confinement, or administrative segregation is cruel," he said.

Not everyone feels like Raemisch. One man said solitary confinement isn't supposed to be pleasant.

"They're there for a reason and then if they get in trouble while there, I have no problem with solitary confinement," Jim Hughes said.

Hughes' son was stabbed in August 2008 and died a day later. The three people involved were put behind bars. Hughes said he and other victims' families have their own sentences.

"I read about having nightmares and anxiety (in solitary confinement.) The victims and their families, we have nightmares constantly," he said. "Anxiety, depression - we suffer this."

Hughes does agree with Raemisch in not releasing inmates directly after them being in solitary confinement.

Raemisch said the DOC is working to implement a plan by June to decrease the use of solitary confinement.

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