Two members of the Angola Three, who were kept in solitary confinement in a United States prison for decades, say the time spent in segregation changed them physically and mentally.
Robert King and Albert Woodfox were members of the Black Panthers, who were convicted of murdering a white prison guard while already in jail. They were eventually exonerated, but not before spending decades in segregation.
The two men were in Thunder Bay Thursday to take part in a panel discussion on solitary confinement and social justice; it included a screening of a film produced by local filmmaker Ron Harpelle about King's ordeal, called Hard Time.
"It was torment," King told CBC Thunder Bay's morning show, Superior Morning of his time behind bars. He spent 29 years in segregation.
Spending that much time in a tiny cell by himself has given him agoraphobia, or a fear of open spaces, he said.
Woodfox spent over 43 years locked up by himself. He was released about a year ago.
"I haven't quite figured out everything it did [to me]," Woodfox added. "But I still at times battle panic attacks and claustrophobic attacks."
"I'm still discovering a lot of things about how solitary confinement for decades affected me."
The issue of solitary confinement has made national headlines in Canada since Ontario's Human Rights Commissioner toured the Thunder Bay District Jail in 2016 and sounded the alarm over the plight of Adam Capay, who spent over four years in segregation awaiting trial on first degree murder.
"I think it's important that we try to bring a level of consciousness to the people in Thunder Bay in particular and Canada as a whole to not let this evil called solitary confinement become a part of the culture of the prison system here," Woodfox said.