Cage of Mirrors: The Violent Solitude of Life in Solitary Confinement

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About Dante Cottingham

At the age of 17, Dante Cottingham was charged with party to a crime of homicide, waived to the adult criminal court system, convicted, sentenced to a lengthy term of imprisonment and then transferred to an adult maximum security prison. He's currently serving his 18th year of incarceration in the New Lisbon Correctional Institute. While incarcerated he obtained his paralegal degree. He has thoroughly researched the social and legal elements of the history and development of juvenile justice in the United States. Research combined with his experiences has turned him into a passionate advocate for juvenile justice reform in America.


  1. How do we create that metanoia moment, turning towards the light, without years, and year in solitary? Is it a matter of focus, or a matter of resistance, or a lack of exposure to higher ideals? People mock faith and religion, but when children are exposed to the nature of man, and the need for rules and structure, it’s like a computer operating system download. Some system software is glitchy, and unsecure leaving it susceptible to malicious viruses. Other system software has been tested and tested and tested to ensure that it is nearly impossible for viruses take hold. Christ and his teachings are that solid software.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read my story and for leaving such an eloquent and poignant message. I think your computer system software analogy is dead on, for solid software is certainly the aim particularly with children. To answer you question, “How do we create that metanoia, turning towards the light without years and years in solitary”? My experiences suggest that dreams are the creator of metanoia. Joyce, there are so many kids in the darkest corners of our country inflicted with inferiority complexes, unable to imagine past their dire circumstances, harboring a warped self image and barren of dreams. We must find a way to get them to dream -gigantic dreams. For their dreams will transform their self perceptions, metanoia, then their new self perceptions will influence their hearts and their hearts will influence their actions.
      Advocates for abandoned adolescents and I have recently been given permission to give a presentation at two youth organisations to work with at risk youth. My primary agenda is to inspire them to dream. I think the world will be surprised at how many kids are dreamless, my dream is to change that. For I am certain if I had dreams as a child I would not be in prison today.
      Joyce, If you know any kids who you think would benefit from my message please contact
      Thank you.

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