Its high price in terms of the misery and suffering it inflicts

More from that HRW statement to the Senate committee in 2012.

The proliferation of super-maximum security prisons is a symptom of profound problems in the nation’s prison systems. Beginning in the 1980s, exploding prison populations caused by increasingly lengthy sentences and diminished opportunities for early release, constrained budgets, inappropriately low staff-to-inmate ratios, and punitive correctional philosophies limited the ability of officials to operate safe and humane facilities. Many turned to prolonged solitary confinement in an effort to increase their control over prisoners. A significant impetus for super-maximum security facilities also came from politicians, who found that advocating harsh policies for criminal offenders was politically popular. Reluctant to be accused of “coddling inmates” or being “soft on crime,” few politicians have been willing to publicly challenge the expanded use of solitary confinement on human rights grounds.

Ok let’s take it back a step – why is that? If that’s the case here why isn’t it the case in Canada and Sweden and Japan and New Zealand? [Read more…]

A blot

An item that’s been under my radar is the overuse of solitary confinement in prisons in the US. First there’s the radical, off the charts overuse of prisons themselves, then there’s the wild overuse of solitary in those prisons, and you have a shameful human rights situation. SHAMEFUL.

Fresh Air did a couple of interviews on the subject yesterday.

Human Rights Watch prepared a statement for a Senate committee in 2012.

Solitary confinement in US prisons is imposed for different reasons, but most commonly it is used as punishment for breaches of discipline (“disciplinary segregation”) or to manage prisoners considered to be particularly difficult or dangerous (“administrative segregation”).[4] The increase in solitary confinement in the United States has occurred primarily through administrative segregation, particularly the segregation of prisoners in special super-maximum security facilities built solely for this purpose. Indeed, in our judgment, the proliferation of super-maximum security facilities is the most troubling development in US corrections in recent decades. [Read more…]