I was devastated. Could it be that all the birds who lived in my yard had died in the storm? I checked the feeders several times a day. Nobody there. I felt like the world had died.
A month or more passed, and eventually the birds came back. Cardinals, chickadees, tufted titmice, goldfinches in their drab winter feathers, tiny downy woodpeckers, and lots of LBBs (little brown birds). I felt rejuvenated, and like these other creatures and I share a lot in common on this beautiful Earth. I felt in my bones that I need other life forms to survive.
During this time, I was working with a wonderful community of people to get a bill passed in the CT General Assembly (SB 1059) that would ban almost all solitary confinement (except for short periods in emergency situations). It would also provide training and support for corrections staff, get rid of in-cell restraints, guarantee communication with loved ones, and create an oversight board to make sure these changes are put in place and followed. You can sign a petition supporting the bill at www.stopsolitaryCT.org
I heard many testimonies from survivors of solitary that it’s like being buried alive. To me I think the worst thing would be not being able to go outside (which is true for most prisoners most of the time, in solitary or not), to not even be able to see outside. The separation from fellow humans and from the natural world can and does make people crazy. It’s a form of torture, the U.N. says, if continued for more than 15 days. I think I’d crack after one.
So, now that the birds have returned – and the spring peepers are peeping from every vernal pool, and the squirrels are scurrying around digging up nuts – I hope the spring will bring relief for our brothers and sisters held in inhumane conditions that make all of us less human.