Solitary crackers: Sleep deprivation is a whiplash to our souls


by Richard Jackson

“Solitary Confinement Security Welfare Checks” – Art: Jaime Amesquita, AA-2153, High Desert SP C2-119, P.O. Box 3030, Susanville CA 96127. Jaime writes, “I’m hoping that maybe through the publishing of my art I can bring attention to the long term effects brought by security/welfare checks, like sleep deprivation or PTSD.”

Lost in thought, in this solitary cell, contemplating existence. Lights perched outside of every cell buzz in a high pitched whine, like a choir of crickets in unison.

Listening in on a cheap pair of ear buds, attached to a contraband wire strung down the tier to the only radio in the pod. The volume isn’t up loud enough to drown out the droning stupid-ass lights, still broadcasting their incessantly false luminosity day and night.

A good song comes on, after too many commercials, and I drift off into its melody. Suddenly a toilet flushes and its loud mouth drowns out all other voices. I wait through its intrusion to conclude with its prioritized efficiency. I just catch the end of the song, when a PA speaker blares out ear-piercingly loud about standing count, or alarm testing in a kitchen I’ve never seen.

Then the section door crashes open, screeching with an obnoxious grinding moan. It reminds me of the garbage truck that used to swallow up the contents of all those garbage cans standing by the curb at attention on garbage day.

Standing count: The cop enters the section, cracks a metal wand on a metal “security” button outside each cell. This contact-cracker creates a loud beep. They crack that pipe on each damned button until it elicits a response. Then continue on to the next button. Crack-crack-beep, crack-beep, crack-crack-crack-beepity-freakin’ beep.

Try and sleep when all this happens every 30 minutes, 24 hours, seven days a week.

You and I are supposed to be the same. So, I’d like to ask you. Does this daily program not sound insane? Could you retain control of your brain, day after day, year after year on this solitary tier?

Send our brother some love and light: Richard Jackson, D-52210, CSP Calipatria, P.O. Box 5004, Calipatria CA 92233. Richard was in the Pelican Bay SHU when he wrote this back on Aug. 8, 2015. He adds in a note about what then was a new routine: “The new instrument being utilized for our supposed safety, the security count pipe, is a whip to our souls every half hour, except it does not leave visible scars. Yet it is a searing whiplash unto our souls daily with sleep deprivation.”


  1. The easiest way to avoid this problem is to just not do something serious enough to get placed into Ad Seg. The cops are required to do this now because of too many mentally ill inmates committing suicide and having their families sue the state. Someone sued and said that they officers weren't doing checks frequently enough and claimed that they falsified their paperwork. So, as a consequence, the State put in an electronically monitored and remotely timed system that the officers can't tamper with. It makes a chirp every cell to indicate that the wand is still charged and recorded each check successfully, so not a single inmate is missed. It's a hilarious irony now that inmates are complaining now that the increased welfare checks are driving them insane and making them feel suicidal. It was their families' constant lawsuits and court settlements and a paranoid distrust of the officers that made the recommendation for this very electronic system a reality. As the old saying goes, "Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it."

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