'The SHU' is a place where prisoners might be sent, and it can actually drive them insane.
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Open Society Foundations

According to the UN, solitary confinement for 15 days or more is considered torture that can cause permanent psychological damage.

But prisons in the United States still use these "Special Housing Units," aka "SHU," aka the "Shoe."

Some, like Pelican Bay Prison in California, keep over one-third of inmates in solitary. Up until last year, Rikers prison in New York would even put 16- and 17-year-old children in solitary (though they euphemistically renamed it "punitive segregation"). They were forced to change that policy.


The estimated number of people in solitary confinement right now in the United States. Image via Fusion/YouTube.

As brought out in the video below, solitary confinement usually means spending between 22 and 24 hours a day alone in your cell. A concrete slab with a thin mattress is your bed, and perhaps three times a week, guards shackle you for a 15-minute shower. The only exercise you get is pacing around another concrete box that, if you're lucky, might have an uncovered ceiling. Because that's the only way you'll see the sky.

In 2013, 30,000 California prisoners went on a hunger strike to protest the use of solitary confinement.

It got people talking and brought attention to the problem.

One of the biggest concerns (in addition to that whole torture thing) is that the reasons inmates are sent to solitary confinement can be pretty arbitrary and subjective.

Someone can be sent there because of the book they're reading or their religious or political affiliation, gender status, or sexual orientation. Or for the infamous "gang affiliation," a catchall phrase that pretty much means anybody can be sent there for any reason.

Some women have even been sent to solitary for reporting rape by prison guards — for their "safety." Ahem.

Just some of the reasons an inmate might go to the "Shoe." Image via Fusion/YouTube.

There are some inmates who have spent decades in solitary.

People like William Blake, who has been in a solitary cell at a New York State prison since 1988.

"Set me afire, pummel and bludgeon me, cut me to bits, stab me, shoot me, do what you will in the worst of ways, but none of it could come close to making me feel things as cumulatively horrifying as what I've experienced through my years in solitary. Dying couldn't take but a short time if you or the State were to kill me; in SHU I have died a thousand internal deaths." — William Blake, inmate

The clip below gets to the heart of it, with help from illustrator Molly Crabapple.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

When the COVID-19 pandemic socially distanced the world and pushed off the 2020 Olympics, we knew the games weren't going to be the same. The fact that they're even happening this year is a miracle, but without spectators and the usual hustle and bustle surrounding the events, it definitely feels different.

But it's not just the games themselves that have changed. The coverage of the Olympics has changed as well, including the unexpected addition of un-expert, uncensored commentary from comedian Kevin Hart and rapper Snoop Dogg on NBC's Peacock.

In the topsy-turvy world we're currently living in, it's both a refreshing and hilarious addition to the Olympic lineup.

Just watch this clip of them narrating an equestrian event. (Language warning if you've got kiddos nearby. The first video is bleeped, but the others aren't.)

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