3 Videos of Mentally Ill in Solitary

Compare these three videos. 1) An independently produced and directed video to 2) a local news story to 3) a 60 Minutes segment. Each is reporting about the placement of mentally ill prisoners in solitary. How does the documentary film style compare to the news coverage?

Trapped: Mental Illness in America’s Prisons from Jenn Ackerman on Vimeo.

Mentally Ill Man Spends Nine Months in Solitary

The Death of Timothy Souders video

The Death of Timothy Souders info

(CBS) You wouldn’t imagine these days that a mental patient could be chained to a concrete slab by prison guards until he died of thirst, but that’s how Timothy Souders died and he is not the only one.

Souders suffered from manic depression. And like a lot of mental patients in this country, he got into trouble and ended up not in a hospital, but in jail. It was a shoplifting case and he paid with his life.

As correspondent Scott Pelley reports, no one would have been the wiser, but a medical investigator working for a federal judge caught wind of Souders’ death and discovered his torturous end was recorded on videotape. The tapes, which are hard to watch, open a horrifying window on mental illness behind bars.
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Six months ago, Tim Souders was in solitary at the Southern Michigan Correctional Center. He was 21, serving three to five years. Though an investigation would show he needed urgent psychiatric care, Souders was chained down, hands, feet and waist, up to 17 hours at a time. By prison rules, all of it was recorded on a 24-hour surveillance camera and by the guards themselves.

The tape records a rapid descent: he started apparently healthy, but in four days Souders could barely walk. In the shower, he fell over. The guards brought him back in a wheelchair, but then chained him down again. On Aug. 6th, he was released from restraints and fell for the last time. Souders had died of dehydration and only the surveillance camera took notice.

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