One of the most mentally taxing parts of a prison is the noise. The sounds of metal groaning, banging, slamming, yelling, angry people doing angry things… It causes traumas in a lot of inmates. My dear friend and fellow writer, Marshall, experienced the worst of these things and came away from prison very affected by it. As a combat veteran suffering the ill effects of PTSD, prison creates some pretty unwanted responses in regards to my startle reflex. A quiet place to unwind in those tightly coiled scenarios would be amazing. I’ve heard that in the free world, some consider quietness a human right.

What could quietness do for the therapeutic part of rehabilitation? As a human right, it could be regarded just the same as food and water. But is it a right? The sounds of violence is excruciating, but there is no certainty in protecting against it. Even in the isolation of solitary confinement, the noise is overwhelming. Midnight screamers, daytime door bangers, and those that verbally abuse staff and other inmates at every hour of the day is inescapable in solitary isolation. On the occasion I’ve been housed that way, it was madness. Combine it with lights being continuously on, limited outside exposure, and no social interaction, solitary is a nightmare.

Regular living units are rife with noise population on the mentally debilitating level, also. Slamming of dominos, arguments over gambling debts, yelling as a means of posturing over other people, even the asshole on the telephone who’s screaming at whichever unfortunate soul answers is enough to drive the rest of us crazy. Add in things like the guy screaming at his TV, excessive volume on music and staff yelling to be heard over the nonsense, the noise brutally heavy. The lack of quietness is crippling in many circumstances. But, if quietness were actually a human right, perhaps more could be done to hold those that destroy it accountable. Maybe prison could be a place to heal and not just be traumatized more…

by Rory Andes

3am seems to be the only place of quiet refuge. Should it be so exclusive?

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