The Marshall Project

What It’s Like to be a Cutter in Prison

"This isn’t a place that provides treatment, help, or even empathy to those who suffer from stress, depression, and mental illness."

It was just a small cut, I thought. Self-harm, yes, but not self-destruction.

Yet 21 stitches later I’m sitting on a metal bed in a 9-by-12 cell on Mountain View Unit’s Crisis Management Center — a.k.a. “the psych center” or “the icebox” — left with nothing but my thoughts. No clothes, no books, no hygiene products, not even a pair of panties to hold the pad between my legs.

They’re afraid I’ll choke myself with my underwear. This is the protocol for suicidal inmates.

Life Inside Perspectives from those who work and live in the criminal justice system. Related Stories

“But I told you I don’t want to die!” I scream to no one in sight, desperate to hear something other than a cacophony of my

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