Spirituality in Dark Places explores the spiritual consequences and ethics of modern solitary confinement. Jeffreys emphasizes how solitary confinement damages our spiritual lives, focusing particularly on how it destroys our relationship to time and undermines our creativity. Solitary inmates experience profound temporal dislocation that erodes their personal identities. They are often isolated from music, art, and books, or find their creativity tightly controlled. Informed by experiences with inmates, chaplains, and employees in the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, Jeffreys also evaluates the ethics of solitary confinement, considering but ultimately rejecting the argument that punitive isolation justifiably expresses moral outrage at heinous crimes. Finally, Jeffreys proposes changes in solitary confinement in order to mitigate its profound damage to both prisoners and human dignity at large.
“A powerful and thought-provoking meditation on the crushing effect of solitary confinement on human spirituality and creativity. Derek Jeffreys has written a brave and persuasive book that calls us to empathize and sympathize with those confined in these conditions, and in so doing to bring the mass isolation of prisoners to an end. This is an important and timely contribution to the current debate on the future of American penal policy and practice.” – Sharon Shalev, Research Fellow, Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford, UK, and Author of Supermax: Controlling Risk Through Solitary Confinement (Willan, 2009)
About the Author(s)
Derek S. Jeffreys is Associate Professor of Humanistic Studies and Religion at The University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, USA.
Table of Contents
Introduction: A Dark and Isolated World
1. Is Time our Enemy? Spirituality and Creativity
2. Solitary and the Economy of Violence
3. Solitary and the Assault on the Human Spirit
4. Sending a Message: the Expressive View of Punishment
5. Should we Banish the Wicked? Solitary Confinement and Human Dignity
Conclusion: Changing the system? Final reflections on policy