NEWS: CAIC Members Give Powerful Testimony About Solitary in New Video Series

tyrrell muhammed, we are witnesses, the marshall project“We Are Witnesses” is a new series of short videos produced by The Marshall Project and The New Yorker, offering incredibly powerful testimony from 20 people whose lives have become enmeshed in the U.S. criminal system.

Two of the videos feature CAIC members. One is about Alicia Barraza and Doug Van Zandt, whose son Ben committed suicide in solitary. One is about Tyrrell Muhammad, who was in prison for 26 years and 11 months, including 7 years in solitary.

“You don’t even know when you lose your mind.” Tyrrell Muhammad describes the experience of solitary confinement: “Usually when we have a snowstorm, after 3 days we get cabin fever, everybody wants to get out. Solitary confinement? There’s no getting out.” He talks about how solitary caused him to start to lose his hold on reality, seeing “figurines” in the paint patterns on the wall of his cell that “look like Abraham Lincoln.”

“Then you’re saying to yourself, ‘That’s not Abraham Lincoln. Stop it. Cut it out,’” he says. “You’re battling yourself for your sanity. And it’s a hell of a battle.”

alicia barraza, We Are Witnesses, The Marshall Project“He wasn’t a bad kid. He was just a kid that was mentally ill.” Alicia Barraza and Doug Van Zandt talk about their son Ben, who despite being 17 years old and diagnosed with a mental illness, was not granted youthful offender status by the DA.

“I wanted to help him, and protect him, but then at the same time, he was already in this criminal system,” Alicia says. “He left us a note. He just said, ‘Please tell my family I love them.’”

Please watch and share!

https://www.themarshallproject.org/witnesses?share=tyrrell

https://www.themarshallproject.org/witnesses?share=alicia-doug

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