Recently released Anthony Gay hugging his mother Shirley.
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After Decades in Solitary Confinement, Anthony Gay is Finally Free

After 24 years of solitary confinement, Anthony Gay is finally free. Gay was incarcerated in 1994 for robbing a fellow teen of a dollar bill and his hat.


After 24 years of solitary confinement, Anthony Gay is finally free. Gay was incarcerated in the year 1994. At that time, he was a teenager. He landed in prison for robbing another teen of a dollar bill and his hat! He was released the last week of August.

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Anothony Gay’s Torturous Journey of a Life Spent In Solitude

During his 24 years in prison, Gay has gone through MORE than a lot. Gay spent 22-23 hours a day in solitary confinement in various prisons in Illinois. He has cut his body parts in protest more than 500 times.

He has been bound to metals beds and made to go without food. Because of being locked in solitary confinement, his mental state suffered tremendously. His actions displayed this. The fact that in 2010 he slashed off his own testicle and tied it to a door of a cell is a clear indication of this.

According to Gay, he feels alive again finally. He cannot believe, after 24 years, he is back home again. Gay thought that he was going to die in prison.

While in prison, he had more than 99 years added to his sentence. Because of his fragile mental state being locked up in solitude, he periodically assaulted guards, including throwing waste at them. He was lashing out, being locked up alone for so long.

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Adding punishment to his sentence for reacting to being locked up alone, he was up for a parole at the age of 120.

Gay’s abnormal case was featured in an investigative series called “Trapped In Tamms”, done by BND. The series won an award in 2009. It is through the series the details of his case and many others were revealed.

An East St. Louis federal judge found mentally ill inmates held in solitary for more than ten years at the Tamms supermax prison were treated cruelly.

Because of the series and the attention it received and other articles written on the prison, it was finally shut down.

The Review of Anthony Gay’s Additional Sentences

Scott Main, an attorney at Bluhm Legal Clinic and Jennifer Soble, an attorney at Fair Punishment Project, reviewed Gay’s 17 cases of assault on prison guards. They determined the sentences that had been added onto to his initial sentence were improper.

According to Gay’s release, main said it perfectly:

“Am I going to say what he did was right? No, I am not. But we put someone in segregation and when he manifests symptoms as a result of that and then we punish them for the symptoms, we can’t be terribly surprised by the outcome.”

The local prosecutor agreed with the attorneys. Gay’s sentence was reduced by 73 years. Then, Gay had only to serve four and a half years. He would finally earn his freedom.

While he is home for the next 3 months, Gay has to wear an electronic ankle bracelet. He is only to leave home to look for a job.

Anthony Gay Needs a Support System After His Traumatic Experience

According to Johnny Perez, the director of U.S. Prisons Program for the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Gay’s success out of prison will solely depend on his support system. He will also need access to resources that will assist him in the transition.

Perez was once held in solitary, like Gay, for three years due to robbery. According to Perez, Gay should connect with people who have been in the same situation he has. Such people would be great to be his mentors.

Chores Make Gay feel human

Daily chores at his mother’s house make Gay feel human again. Chores such as mowing grass at his family’s home.

Recently released Anthony Gay hugging his mother Shirley.
Solitary confinement is justifiably controversial in this day and age. Anthony Gay’s (pictured above next to his mother, Shirley) story has successfully shown the atrocities that have come from it, such as self-harm and over-sentencing for minor offenses. Image Source: Twitter

Gay has a dream of writing a book about his years in solitary confinement. He has come up with a title, “Life on Impulse”. With the help of a friend in the publishing industry, he has been able to design the book cover.

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Abigael Shem
Abigael Shem has eight years of experience in academic, content, research and creative writing, editing and proofreading. Developing any type of content is now an easy task for her. When she's not writing, she enjoys singing, dancing, hiking, traveling and sports, especially football and basketball. Abigael currently writes news for prison loved ones on Prison Rideshare Network.