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PBS Cameras Go Inside Maine’s Solitary Confinement Unit at the Maine State Prison

PBS Frontline via YouTube
PBS Frontline via YouTube

When you see documentaries about prisons late at night on cable news channels, they almost never show what happens here in Maine. Now, we have a look inside the solitary confinement unit at the Maine State Prison.

“You can’t conduct yourself like a human being when they treat you like an animal,” one inmate says to the camera. “Monsters. This is what they create in here. Hell, and monsters. And then, they drop you into society.”

This month, PBS Frontline aired a documentary that took them three years to film. In “Last Days of Solitary,” The Maine Department of Corrections and the Maine State prison are trying to move away from using long-term solitary confinement. Once you see what happens there, you’ll understand why.

PBS Frontline via YouTube
PBS Frontline via YouTube

“If you don’t have a strong mind, this place will break you – quick,” another inmate tells the camera crew. “Down here, it makes you feel like you’re being buried alive.”

Significant research shows that human interaction – not locked-down solitary confinement – is much more likely to help inmates work out their issues and rejoin society if they are able. Inmates in solitary confinement in Maine prisons, at the time of this documentary, were locked down for 23 hours every day.

The proper use of long-term solitary confinement has been debated over the years, and features like this one, shot right here in Maine, are changing minds about how it should be used.

Before you watch, be aware: the content of this documentary is graphic, violent, and disturbing.

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