Thought Catalog

This article originally appeared on Solitary Watch.

The following essay is by William Blake, who has been held in solitary confinement for nearly 26 years. Currently he is in administrative segregation at Elmira Correctional Facility, a maximum security facility located in south central New York State. In 1987, Blake, then 23 and in county court on a drug charge, murdered one deputy and wounded another in a failed escape attempt. Sentenced to 77 years to life, Blake has no chance of ever leaving prison alive, and almost no chance of ever leaving solitary — a fate he considers “a sentence worse than death.”

This powerful essay earned Blake an Honorable Mention in the Yale Law Journal’s Prison Law Writing Contest, chosen from more than 1,500 entries. He describes here in painstaking detail his excruciating experiences over the last quarter-century. “I’ve read of the studies done regarding the effects of long-term…

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