Solitary Confinement: US Government Must End This Cruel and Inhumane Practice

Over 80,000 people on any one day are held in isolation in US prisons. That’s 22-24 hours a day confined to a cell for months, years or decades in conditions of severe social and physical isolation.

Individuals in solitary confinement are deprived of all but the minimal amount of human contact, both within the prison and with those outside it. The harsh conditions are psychologically devastating. To understand the brutal consequences of isolation you need to look no further than the statistics: half of all successful suicides in US prisons occur in solitary cells.

In a speech to the UN in September, President Obama stated that the US welcomes international scrutiny. Let us test this resolve and call on the US State Department to invite the United Nations to carry out a fact-finding visit to US prisons on the use of solitary confinement. Read more

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Message Recipients: US Secretary of State John Kerry
The US uses solitary confinement to an extent unequalled in any other democratic country.

Over 80,000 people on any one day are held in isolation, with 25,000 held long-term in super-maximum security prisons. That’s 22-24 hours a day confined to a cell for months, years or decades in conditions of severe social and physical isolation. Individuals in solitary confinement are deprived of all but the minimal amount of human contact, both within the prison and with those outside it. This practice violates international laws and standards, including the rights enshrined in the Convention against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.

As a first and necessary step to curbing the US’s use of solitary confinement, we urge you to extend an invite to the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, to carry out a fact-finding visit to US super-maximum security prisons. The visit should include both state and federal facilities – including those where individuals are held in pre-trial isolation - under the terms requested by his office.

President Obama recently stated at the UN that the US welcomes international scrutiny. Let this be a litmus test for the US Government’s commitment to such enquiry on an issue where the US stands virtually alone.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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