The Psychological Damage of Solitary Confinement

“When I testify in court, I am often asked: ‘What is the damage of long-term solitary confinement?’ . . . Many prisoners emerge from prison after years in solitary with very serious psychiatric symptoms even though outwardly they may appear emotionally stable. The damage from isolation is dreadfully real.”
—Terry Allen Kupers, author of Solitary: The Inside Story of Supermax Isolation and How We Can Abolish It

For World Mental Health Day, we recognize the prisoners who serve time in solitary confinement. When people discuss mass incarceration, the mental and emotional health of prisoners may not always be at the forefront of discussions. #MentalHealthDay

Terry Allen Kupers, one of the nation’s foremost experts on the mental health effects of solitary confinement, shares his role in exposing the effects of solitary confinement on incarcerated people. In a recent interview with Colorlines, Kupers says, “I testify about inhumane and unconstitutional conditions of confinement… After I have done my investigation, the county or state’s attorneys depose me under oath. Some large class actions are settled at that point. Some go to trial, and then I testify in court as a psychiatric expert. After I describe unconstitutional and abusive conditions and practices, I am asked what remedies I would recommend, and that’s when I have an opportunity to share with the judge or jury the proven effective alternatives to prison crowding and solitary confinement.”

On Rising Up with Sonali, Kupers describes the detrimental impact of solitary confinement on the human brain. Kupers notes that isolation “very much damages brain structure and lays down pathways that cause dysfunction.” And for those incarcerated people with existing mental illness, “isolation exacerbates their mental illness, makes their prognosis much worse, makes their disability greater, and in the end, they get out of prison unable to function in the community.”

Read an excerpt of Solitary. And share your thoughts below in the comments section on the mental well-being of incarcerated people in solitary confinement.


Joining the Fight: Standing Up for the Wrongfully Convicted

“I’ve had a mom of a client tell me that even though her son was still in prison, just having us join the fight meant that she could enjoy Christmas for the first time since they took her son away. (We eventually won that case and freed her son many years later.) But many of these cases we don’t win, so we try to find value in the tough losses.”

–Mark Godsey, author of Blind Injustice: A Former Prosecutor Exposes the Psychology and Politics of Wrongful Convictions, in Salon.com

Who are the people that fight on behalf of those wrongfully convicted? For International Wrongful Conviction Day, we share the experiences of Mark Godsey, former New York City prosecutor and co-founder of The Ohio Innocence Project at University of Cincinnati College of Law. Since 2003, Godsey and the OIP have helped to exonerate 25 people who were wrongfully convicted. That’s a combined 450 years served by innocent people.

 

The Wrongfully Convicted
Nine of the 25 exonerees that Mark Godsey and the Ohio Innocence Project has helped.

In a recent Salon.com interview, Godsey shares heartbreaking and personal stories —from the success story of Ricky Jackson, released after 40 years, to the continuing story of Kevin Thornton, where DNA evidence can prove his innocence but whose case is tied up in the court of appeals since, as Godsey notes, “prosecutors and courts don’t want to admit mistakes of this magnitude. …. There’s a whole psychology or pathology behind it.”

Why Fight?

In his interview Godsey says, “just the act of standing up for someone like Kevin—standing by his side and saying, ‘We care about you enough to fight for you’—has value to him, and value to humanity, even if we lose. We have had clients like Kevin tell us that they had lost all hope, and just the fact that someone finally listened and joined in their fight helped re-instill their faith in humanity.”

The Psychology Behind #WrongfulConvictions

In a recent TedX Talk, Godsey admits that working on the Innoncence Project is “opening my eyes to problems in the system, specifically that wrongful convictions are … caused by simple human failings, psychological limitations that cause investigations to go astray.”

The innate psychological flaws experienced by, lawyers, judges, police, and juries can cause investigations to go awry. Godsey specifically discusses how confirmation bias, malleable memories, and lie detection deficits have a hand in  the conviction of innocent people.

See the full TedX Talk below. And join the Blind Injustice Facebook Group to keep up with the plight of the wrongfully convicted. #WrongfulConvictionDay



Protecting the Mental Health of Prisoners

The treatment of prisoners continues to be at the forefront of global discussions on human rights. August 10th is Prisoner’s Justice Day, a day of observance that began in 1975 after Edward Nalon committed suicide in a prison segregation unit in Ontario, Canada. The day commemorates all those who have died in custody and challenges the confinement conditions that encroach on basic human rights.

Imagine spending nearly 24 hours a day alone, confined to an 8’ x 10’ windowless cell. This is the reality of approximately 100,000 inmates in solitary confinement in the United States today. Psychiatrist Terry Allen Kupers, author of Solitary: The Inside Story of Supermax Isolation and How We Can Abolish It, shares how the psychological affects of solitary confinement can cause harm, including anxiety attacks, paranoia, depression, and other mental illness—and can sometimes lead to suicide. Solitary can be considered a practice that qualifies as an human rights abuse. And inmates have suffered by their own hand when repeated warnings about their mental stability are ignored. Legal actions continue to attempt to change the prison culture so mentally ill inmates can receive the services they need. Here, Kupers notes in Solitary:

[I]t has been known for decades that while suicide is approximately twice as prevalent in prison as it is in the community, fully half of all successful suicides that occur in a correctional system involve the 3 to 8 percent of prisoners who are in some form of isolated confinement at any given time.

It is by now clear that for prisoners prone to serious mental illness, time served in isolation exacerbates their mental illness and too often results in suicide. This is the main reason that federal courts have ruled that prisoners with serious mental illness must not be subjected to long-term isolation. Federal judge Felton Henderson, ruling in Madrid v. Gomez regarding the SHU [Special Housing Unit] at Pelican Bay State Prison, wrote: “Many if not most, inmates in the SHU experience some degree of psychological trauma in reaction to their extreme social isolation and the severely restricted environmental stimulation in SHU.” Further, he asserted, “The conditions in the SHU may press the outer bounds of what most humans can psychologically tolerate.”

In court I argue that the harsh conditions of solitary confinement that cause severe psychiatric symptoms in previously healthy prisoners inevitably have a devastating effect on prisoners prone to mental illness. In far too many cases the effects include psychosis, mania, compulsive acts of self-abuse or suicide, and often some combination of the three.

What are your thoughts on the current criminal justice policies and the treatment of mentally ill inmates in solitary confinement?


Collabra: Psychology Now the Official Journal of SIPS

Collabra: Psychology is delighted to announce its new affiliation as the official journal of the Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science (SIPS). SIPS will oversee editorial responsibilities for the journal, while University of California Press remains its publisher. Dan Morgan, UC Press publisher of Collabra: Psychology, says of the new affiliation:

“With our shared focus on rigorous science and improving norms for publishing practices, and an increasing cross-over of people involved with both, it feels natural to formally affiliate Collabra: Psychology and SIPS. Both entities’ missions are amplified by this collaboration.”

Simine Vazire, UC Davis, and Chair, SIPS Executive Committee also says of the partnership:

“We are thrilled that Collabra: Psychology will be the official journal of the Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science. This joint project will be vital to helping us fulfill our mission. Collabra: Psychology provides an outlet for psychological research that exemplifies the values of SIPS, and presents an opportunity for SIPS to help change norms and incentives in the field of psychology .”

Collabra: Psychology and SIPS are excited to unite in a shared mission to improve psychological science, and scholarly communications broadly, through policies that support transparency, openness, diversity, and rigorous, ethical scientific research practices. To learn more about how Collabra: Psychology currently reinforces these values, check out our website at collabra.org.

See the press release from UC Press here.


Meet Psychology Editor Christopher Johnson at SPSSI

It’s been about 6 months since we last caught up with Christopher Johnson, Executive Editor for Psychology. Here, we learn more about what has been unfolding for the UC Press’ newest discipline—Psychology. 

It’s been an exciting few months. How have your projects been developing for the Psychology list?

I’ve been at the Press for about 18 months and it’s great to have projects at various stages of development.

  • My first book at UC Press is publishing this SeptemberSeeing: How Light Tells Us About the World by noted cognitive psychologist Tom Cornsweet (Emeritus Professor at UC Irvine).
  • My newest textbook signing is a wonderful treatment of creativity by Robert Weisberg (Temple University). This book joins two other innovative textbook signings from earlier this yearone for the psychology of adjustment course by Robert Innes and a second for the testing and measurement course by Lisa Hollis-Sawyer.
  • I’m particularly excited to be working with pioneering psychologist Ravenna Helson (Professor Emerita UC Berkeley) and coauthor Valory Mitchell on a book that traces the evolution of Helson’s groundbreaking Mills Longitudinal Study.
  • New proposals have been keeping me busy. From a new textbook for the psychology of religion course, to a thoughtful and innovative look at the evolution of the self in the digital age, to a much needed new text for the psychology of the self course. I really want to hear from authors interested in reaching audiences in undergraduate and graduate psychology courses.

Are you specializing in a particular area of psychology?

Absolutely! The UC Press has traditionally championed books that examine social issues: race, class, gender, conflict, poverty, social justice, the environment, etc. The topics are well represented in our world-class sociology, criminology, history, anthropology, and other catalogs. Psychological science sheds an indispensable light here and I’m eager to work with authors who want their research to influence the national dialog. To that end, I welcome proposals for related textbooks, scholarly works and trade books.

Join UsAnd Meet Christopher at SPSSI! 

Interested in publishing your work with Christopher and UC Press? Contact Christopher at cjohnson@ucpress.edu. And set up a time to meet with him at the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) conference in Albuquerque, NM this  June 23-25.

And learn more about the Higher Education Program.


Editor Spotlight: Christopher Johnson, Executive Editor for Psychology

Christopher.Johnson.Photo

For more than 120 years, UC Press has championed work that influences public discourse and challenges the status quo in multiple fields of study. It was with considerable excitement that we have decided to add psychology to our catalog—complementing our already strong presence in sociology, anthropology, history and other disciplines.

In this Q&A with Executive Editor Christopher Johnson, we learn about what brought him to publishing and his plans for the new psychology list.

Why did you become an acquisitions editor?

I spent the early years of my publishing career in sales and marketing. But like the kid with his nose pressed against the candy store window, I spent most of that time eagerly waiting for the moment when I could be the person to work directly with authors, helping shape ideas, and solving problems. Over twenty years later (and no longer a kid), it’s still a thrill to sit across a desk from a prospective author and ask the question: “How can I help you tell this story and reach your audience?”

What projects are you working on now to develop the Psychology list at UC Press?

Building a program from scratch is an exciting but somewhat daunting challenge. Fortunately, the response from psychologist around the country has been overwhelmingly positive. Though we are new to psychology, the UC Press brand is widely known and much respected.

I’ve been at the Press for one year and I’m happy that I have projects at all stages of development. For example:

  • My first book at UC Press is Seeing by noted cognitive psychologist Tom Cornsweet (Emeritus Professor at UC Irvine). The manuscript is undergoing final reviewing now and we hope to publish in late 2017.
  • My most recent signings include two innovative textbooks. The first is intended for the psychology of adjustment course by Robert Innes at Vanderbilt University and the second a highly applied book for the testing and measurement course by Lisa Hollis-Sawyer at Northeastern Illinois University.
  • I’m currently reviewing a number of proposals for new titles. It’s a wonderfully eclectic mix. From a companion reader to a behavioral statistics course, to a first person account of pregnancy and the first nine months of life by a developmental psychologist, to a much needed new text for the psychology of the self course, these projects under consideration reflect the broad scope of our new program.

You’re developing new textbooks and course books. Why is new content intended for use in courses important to you?

I’m very interested in acquiring a broad range of psychology books including works of popular science (a.k.a trade books), as well as more specialized works intended primarily for researchers. However, I am especially excited to hear from prospective authors interested in reaching audiences in undergraduate and graduate courses. The industry is undergoing dramatic changes and the big commercial publishers are de-emphasizing (or eliminating altogether) textbook offerings for upper division courses. I’m really proud that UC Press is committed to serving this increasingly under-served community of teachers and students.

Join Us 

Interested in publishing your work with Christopher and UC Press? Contact Christopher at cjohnson@ucpress.edu.

And learn more about the Higher Education Program.

HighCreatives_ads_rev22 Higher Education


Collabra: Psychology Call for Papers: Developmental Psychology

This post was originally published on the Collabra: Psychology blog. For Collabra: Psychology news and updates, please follow @CollabraOA, the Collabra blog, or sign up for the Collabra e-newsletter.

UC Press is proud to be part of the AAUP’s fifth annual University Press Week. Check out our blog and social media channels through Nov. 19th (plus follow hashtags #ReadUp #UPWeek), and learn how we, along with 40 of our scholarly press colleagues, work diligently to publish vital works benefitting educational, specialized research, and general interest communities.


We invite you to submit your work in developmental psychology to Collabra: Psychology, the mission-centric, value-sharing open access (OA) journal from University of California Press.

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If you’ve already heard of us, you will know that Collabra: Psychology is different. It is not just another OA journal, but a journal that actually gives back to the research community through a novel mechanism that recognizes and shares the value contributed by editors and peer reviewers. This mechanism shares earnings with editors and reviewers for any journal work (not just work leading to acceptance), and allows them to make decisions as to what happens with this value, with options to “pay forward” that value to institutional OA budgets, or to an author waiver fund subsidizing APCs for other researchers. This page explains it in full.

Additionally, Collabra: Psychology is focused on scientific, methodological, and ethical rigor. Editors and reviewers do not attempt to predict a submission’s impact to the field, nor employ any topic bias in accepting articles — they will check for rigorously and transparently conducted, statistically sound, adequately powered, and fairly analyzed research worthy of inclusion in the scholarly record. The bar is set high.

We encourage you to submit your work to us, and to know that you will be supporting one of the first journals that shares actual value with all of the people who do the work and help create a journal’s brand. With our first papers now published and receiving over 25,000 views collectively, we look forward to continued publishing success. Any questions, please contact Dan Morgan.

For Collabra: Psychology news and updates please follow @CollabraOA, the Collabra blog, or sign up for the Collabra e-newsletter.

There are many more innovative features at Collabra: Psychology, including optional open peer review, article-level metrics, article annotation and commentary from hypothes.is, and an article-sharing partnership with Kudos, to name just a few. Please do check out the website for the full story: www.collabra.org.

To see more Calls for Papers from Collabra: Psychology, click here.

We hope to hear from you soon!

(On behalf of the Editors)

Dan Morgan, Publisher, Collabra: Psychology


Open Access Week 2016: An Interview with Collabra: Psychology Senior Editor, Don Moore

collabra_header_twitter_small (1)This post was originally published on the Collabra: Psychology blog. For more information about Collabra: Psychology, our open access journal publishing in psychology, please visit collabra.org and follow along at @CollabraOA and the Collabra blog.

This post is also in honor of International Open Access Week, October 24–30, 2016. Stay tuned all week for more special content from UC Press Open Access initiatives.


don moore
Don Moore, PhD, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley

Collabra: Psychology is fortunate to have an impressive roster of senior editors across its seven psychology sections. Among these is Don Moore, PhD, Professor of Management of Organizations at the Haas of School Business, UC Berkeley, and Senior Editor in Organizational Behavior.

Don Moore got his start as a PhD candidate at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, followed by a position at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. While there, he visited the University of New South Wales in Sydney, the University of Wurzburg in Germany, and the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. Then, because his family “really likes schlepping back and forth across the country,” he went back to Carnegie Mellon for an additional year before accepting a position in the Management of Organizations group at the Haas School.

Now adding Senior Editorship of Collabra: Psychology to the many hats he wears, we sat down with Don to learn more about his work and research, as well as what inspired him to be part of the open access journal.

1. What inspired you to pursue a career in Organizational Behavior?

After college, where I majored in Psychology, I went to go work for a privately held and neurotically secretive industrial supply company where I was overpaid to do dreadfully dull work. I hated the job the company wanted me to do, but I was fascinated by all the circumstances surrounding my work. How did the company select people for hire or promotion? How did the company make important decisions? Who had the power? How did they communicate with others in the organization? Was the company doing these things optimally or was it possible to identify better approaches? I went back to graduate school, in part to get away from my awful job managing grommet inventories, but mostly to study all the fascinating issues of behavior in organizations.

2. I gather that your research has focused primarily on the study of overconfidence. How did you arrive at this topic?

In graduate school I had the good fortune to be able to work with the wonderful Max Bazerman at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School. For my dissertation, I studied the role of time pressure in negotiation. Mostly, it was a narrow and boring dissertation topic, but there was one interesting result that emerged: when negotiators were put under time pressure, everyone (both buyer and seller) thought it was bad for them, and thought the time pressure would help the other side. Trying to understand how it is that people could be more aware of their own constraints than of others’ led me to run studies in which people were competing with each other on tests whose difficulty I manipulated. When the test got harder, all competitors thought they would be less likely to win. Or to pick another example, when the instructor cancels an exam review session or decides to make the exam closed-book, students’ hopes of getting a good grade decline, even if everyone knows the exam is graded on a forced curve. The consequence is underconfidence: everyone believes they had a below-average chance to win. My career since then has focused on identifying when people are overconfident and when they are underconfident.

3. Can you share a particularly memorable experience or breakthrough in your research?

My proudest breakthrough was when I realized I could explain the baffling empirical inconsistency between the hard-easy effect (in which people overestimate performance most on hard tasks) and its apparent reversal in better- and worse-than-average effects (in which people are most likely to believe that they are better than others at easy tasks). I presented that delightfully parsimonious explanation in a 2007 paper with Deborah Smalland a 2008 paper with PJ Healy.

4. What do you think is the greatest concern or challenge in your field today?

The field is going through a wrenching series of changes in the conduct of research and sharing of results. Before long, it will be standard practice for researchers to pre-register their studies before they run them, and afterward to post data, materials, and analysis code. But until then, the rules of the game are changing, and the changes are not being adopted at an equal rate everywhere, creating some divisions among scientists and some uncertainty for young scientists regarding how they should do their work.

5. What drew you to editorship of Collabra: Psychology?

The old system for publishing and disseminating scientific articles is appallingly inefficient, distressingly unfair, and deeply dysfunctional. For-profit publishers exploit the volunteer labor of researchers, reviewers, and editors. They then claim copyright over our work, slow down its dissemination, restrict access to the knowledge we want to share with the world, and charge our own libraries for access to it. It’s an utterly insane system that only exists because once upon a time it was expensive to distribute paper copies of printed journals. But the Internet has changed all that, making it essentially free for scientists to share their research with the world, for example at a pre-print repository. A revolution will overthrow the world of scientific publishing and I am excited about Collabra: Psychology’s potential role in hastening that revolution.

6. What kind of impact do you hope to have as a Senior Editor for Collabra: Psychology?

I am proud that Collabra: Psychology will be open and free to everyone, and that contributors will also be helping advance open science in other ways, including data posting and open reviews. We hope to establish Collabra: Psychology’s distinctive reputation as a journal whose high methodological standards can assure readers that papers published in the journal present results that are true and replicable. Researchers doing this sort of work ought to be especially interested in submitting it to us. But Collabra as a publishing program is also positioned to play a larger role in the future of scientific publishing. The journal’s publisher and OA platform stand ready to host other journals. When editorial teams at closed journals decide to throw off the yoke of exploitation and move en masse to an open-access format, Collabra has the infrastructure in place to make that move easy for the team. Moreover, since Collabra does not attempt to claim exclusive ownership over articles, it could serve as the quality referee for an online archive, such as PsyArXiv or OSF preprints in the case of Collabra: Psychology.

7. Okay, overconfidence aside — do you have a secret talent or hobby you are willing to share?

I’m quite confident I don’t. I have devoted my life to science, and taken vows of poverty and celibacy. Well, I did make an exception for my wife. And truth be told, I’m not sure the poverty thing is really working out either. But I have become a very boring person as most of my hobbies have fallen by the wayside because I love my work so much. If I have a secret talent, it is the ability to spring eagerly from my bed most mornings at 5 a.m. to dash to my desk and get to work.


Collabra: Psychology invites you to submit your work in Organizational Behavior under Senior Editor Don Moore. Click here to see our Call for Papers.


Collabra: Psychology Call for Papers: Organizational Psychology

This post was originally published on the Collabra: Psychology blog. For Collabra: Psychology news and updates, please follow @CollabraOA, the Collabra blog, or sign up for the Collabra e-newsletter.


We invite you to submit your work in organizational psychology to Collabra: Psychology, the mission-centric, value-sharing open access (OA) journal from University of California Press.

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If you’ve already heard of us, you will know that Collabra: Psychology is different. It is not just another OA journal, but a journal that actually gives back to the research community through a novel mechanism that recognizes and shares the value contributed by editors and peer reviewers. This mechanism shares earnings with editors and reviewers for any journal work (not just work leading to acceptance), and allows them to make decisions as to what happens with this value, with options to “pay forward” that value to institutional OA budgets, or to an author waiver fund subsidizing APCs for other researchers. This page explains it in full.

Additionally, Collabra: Psychology is focused on scientific, methodological, and ethical rigor. Editors and reviewers do not attempt to predict a submission’s impact to the field, nor employ any topic bias in accepting articles — they will check for rigorously and transparently conducted, statistically sound, adequately powered, and fairly analyzed research worthy of inclusion in the scholarly record. The bar is set high.

But, most importantly for this call for papers, Collabra: Psychology has a great team of editors who specialize in organizational psychology, led by Don Moore, Senior Editor, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley.

We encourage you to submit your work to us, and to know that you will be supporting one of the first journals that shares actual value with all of the people who do the work and help create a journal’s brand. With our first papers now published and receiving over 25,000 views collectively, we look forward to continued publishing success. Any questions, please contact Dan Morgan.

For Collabra: Psychology news and updates please follow @CollabraOA, the Collabra blog, or sign up for the Collabra e-newsletter.

There are many more innovative features at Collabra: Psychology, including optional open peer review, article-level metrics, article annotation and commentary from hypothes.is, and an article-sharing partnership with Kudos, to name just a few. Please do check out the website for the full story: www.collabra.org.

To see more Calls for Papers from Collabra: Psychology, click here.

We hope to hear from you soon!

(On behalf of the Editors)

Dan Morgan, Publisher, Collabra: Psychology


Collabra: Psychology Call for Papers: Methodology & Research Practice in Psychology

This post was originally published on the Collabra: Psychology blog. For Collabra: Psychology news and updates, please follow @CollabraOA, the Collabra blog, or sign up for the Collabra e-newsletter.


We invite you to submit your work in methodology & research practice in psychology to Collabra: Psychology, the mission-centric, value-sharing open access (OA) journal from University of California Press.

unnamed

If you’ve already heard of us, you will know that Collabra: Psychology is different. It is not just another OA journal, but a journal that actually gives back to the research community through a novel mechanism that recognizes and shares the value contributed by editors and peer reviewers. This mechanism shares earnings with editors and reviewers for any journal work (not just work leading to acceptance), and allows them to make decisions as to what happens with this value, with options to “pay forward” that value to institutional OA budgets, or to an author waiver fund subsidizing APCs for other researchers. This page explains it in full.

Additionally, Collabra: Psychology is focused on scientific, methodological, and ethical rigor. Editors and reviewers do not attempt to predict a submission’s impact to the field, nor employ any topic bias in accepting articles — they will check for rigorously and transparently conducted, statistically sound, adequately powered, and fairly analyzed research worthy of inclusion in the scholarly record. The bar is set high.

But, most importantly for this call for papers, Collabra: Psychology has a great team of editors who specialize in methodology & research practice, led by Simine Vazire, Senior Editor, University of California, Davis.

We encourage you to submit your work to us, and to know that you will be supporting one of the first journals that shares actual value with all of the people who do the work and help create a journal’s brand. With our first papers now published and receiving over 25,000 views collectively, we look forward to continued publishing success. Any questions, please contact Dan Morgan.

There are many more innovative features at Collabra: Psychology, including optional open peer review, article-level metrics, article annotation and commentary from hypothes.is, and an article-sharing partnership with Kudos, to name just a few. Please do check out the website for the full story: www.collabra.org.

We hope to hear from you soon!

(On behalf of the Editors)

— Dan Morgan, Publisher, Collabra: Psychology