Just over 20 years ago, Caron Butler accepted a scholarship offer to play basketball for the legendary coach Jim Calhoun at UConn, a college makes power. He was a first-rate talent with a future on the hardwood floor ahead of him. But behind him lay a deafening passing of several arrests, and a mass of “serious mistakesHe probably copied it.
When he was a teenager he returned in Racine, Wis., Butler was sentenced to 18 months in prison on charges of drug possession and firearms. Here, he was put in a fight and put in isolation for two weeks. It’s 23 hours a day without anyone to talk to, nothing to read, nothing to watch. Nothing but Butler and his thoughts in a tight prison cell.
At the time he was only 15 years old.
“Being in these four walls and these four corners, it makes you feel something,” Butler told The Associated Press. “Mentally and spiritually, he hunts a lot. It dehumanizes you. “
Now, he transforms his experience into political action.
“Loneliness hurts, physically and mentally,” Butler wrote recently in a Hartford Current op-ed that prompted Connecticut lawmakers to pass the PROTECT Act, State Bill 1059, which would end, in part, with the use of isolation for prisoners except in emergency situations.
In the newspaper section, Butler also mentioned the reason for the isolation: punishment, not rehabilitation. “Closed for 23 hours a day.” Cut from all social contacts. Denied access to family and community ties that remind you of who you are and who you may become. I got the message strong and clear. Our goal is not to rehabilitate. We aim to break you up. ”
But today, the former Husky and current assistant coach for the Miami Heat was in Hartford to push the end of the islet into state prisons.
Neighboring New York and neighboring New Jersey have already passed similar legislation.
In addition to a patch by political activist Angela Davis, Butler carried a “People not prison” pin and another button for the Stop Solitary CT group.
Barbara Fair, a lead organizer for the group, told the AP that having a person like Butler can be beneficial for the campaign to end the island. “This is something that people can connect with,” Fair said of the basketball player and coach. “This is the biggest problem around our prison systems is that often people have difficulty connecting with the humanity of incarcerated people.”
“It’s important that you look back,” Butler said during the press conference at the Connecticut Capitol today. “Remember these experiences and remember the people who have been affected by some of the laws that are meant to break you and dehumanize you and put you in the situation where you feel less of a human being.”
SB 1059 was approved by the CT legislature last week. He is now awaiting the signature of Governor Ned Lamont.