Updated: Jun 9
Millions of Americans are incarcerated in overcrowded, violent, and inhumane prisons that do not provide adequate treatment, education, or rehabilitation. The Uncuffed Project has taken a different approach to this problem.
We see the issues being addressed from the inside out and not the outside in. We are constantly fighting for reforms that protect incarcerated people despite those who fail to see the humanity in our work or those citizens who have paid their debt to society.
As prison populations surged nationwide in the 1990’s, California prisons in particular began to deteriorate, California lawmakers made it harder for incarcerated people to file and win civil rights lawsuits in federal court and largely eliminated court oversight of prisons. This created a backlog for corruption to take hold and inflict maximum damage. This became the battle cry for those who sought out other oppressive strategies in order to control a mass segment of the population.
Today, California prisons and those in America are in crisis. Incarcerated people are beaten, stabbed, raped, and killed in facilities run by corrupt officials who abuse their power with impunity. People who need medical care, help managing their disabilities, mental health and addiction treatment, and suicide prevention are denied care, ignored, punished, and placed in solitary confinement. All for asking about their rights.
California’s prisons are the most violent in the nation. The U.S. Department of Justice found in a statewide investigation that California routinely violates the constitutional rights of people in its prisons, where homicide and sexual abuse is common, knives and dangerous drugs are rampant, and incarcerated people are extorted, threatened, stabbed, raped, and even tied up for days without guards noticing.
This little known fact deeply disturbs The Uncuffed Project so much so, that our call to action is deeply rooted in unwrapping this trauma and allowing a safe space to regain one's bearings.
Understanding the Broken Hearted
More than half of all men and women within the California prison system have a mental illness. Prison officials often fail to provide appropriate treatment for people whose behavior is difficult to manage, instead resorting to physical force and solitary confinement, which can aggravate mental health problems. More than 60,000 people in the U.S. are held in solitary confinement. They’re isolated in small cells for 23 hours a day, allowed out only for showers, brief exercise, or medical visits, and denied calls or visits from family members.
This fact is especially egregious in California, who per capita locks up more people than any other state. It's become big business and the cost is too great to ignore.
Studies show that people held in long-term solitary confinement suffer from anxiety, paranoia, perceptual disturbances, and deep depression. Housing these individuals takes special understanding unique to others who have lived through this pain. The Uncuffed Project’s approach is simple: We treat people how we want to be treated.
Although nationwide, suicides among people held in isolation account for almost 50% of all prison suicides, even though less than 8% of the prison population is in isolation. We recognize this fact and are ready to get our folks into the action to continue this fight.