Public Comment

Solitary Confinement

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday March 04, 2016 - 05:40:00 PM

Solitary Confinement is a barbaric form of punishment. It violates the 8th amendment of the US Constitution. It is illegal in treaties ratified by the U.S. It is guaranteed to harden human beings confined to its solitary dungeons. 

A staggering 80,000 are confined to solitary. Justice Kennedy commented that the insidious practice is sure to “literally drive men mad.” The prisoners are held in windowless cells devoid of virtually all human contact. A correctional facility should make every effort to rehabilitate prisoners to drive down recidivism rates when they are released.  

President Obama is the first president to denounce the practice, and called for its total ban for juveniles. He stated "how can we subject prisoners to unnecessary solitary confinement, knowing its effects, and then expect them to return to our communities as whole people?” After much legal prodding and hunger strikes, California agreed to overhaul its system which is the largest and most brutal in the country.  

500 of the prisoners who participated in the class-action lawsuit had been in solitary for more ten years. A United Nations report states that stays longer than 15 days could amount to torture. Albert Woodfox served 43 years in solitary, more time than anyone in U.S. history. This is a stark reminder of the injustice that pervades our criminal justice system. It makes us far less safe and is an affront to our common humanity. It is aptly described by social scientists as social death.