United States: what it’s like to spend half a life in solitary confinement?

Tony Medina has spent two decades in a concrete box in Texas, alone.

Tony medina is a polite, burly man with heavily tattooed arms. Like all those confined at the Allan B. Polunsky Unit, he is dressed in white. The prison’s squat grey buildings hold 214 death-row convicts. Locked into a tiny booth in a visiting room, handcuffs off, he compares being “out here” to a vacation. It is quiet, save clangs of metal doors. The room is also cooled and, a rarity, he can see through Plexiglas to the face of another human.

He was convicted in 1996, aged 21, for a drive-by shooting that killed two children at a new-year party. Since then, for 23 years, he has been awaiting execution. In Texas the death penalty is applied to those found guilty of a heinous crime who are also judged to be a threat to others. Mr Medina’s legal appeals are continuing.

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