Life in Solitary Confinement
July 26, 2006 Over the past two decades, solitary confinement has moved out of the prison basement and into whole facilities built just for isolation. These places have many names — Supermax, intensive-management units, secure housing — but the meaning is the same: years alone, out of the public view and away from public oversight.
July 26, 2006 The isolation units at California's Pelican Bay prison hold more than 1,200 inmates. They live in small, windowless cells, often for years, with virtually no human contact. The system was designed to break up gangs, but some say the problem is worse than ever.
July 28, 2006 Gary Harkins also spent decades inside an isolation unit — as a correctional officer at the Oregon State Penitentiary. He says solitary confinement takes its not just on the men it houses, but also on the men who watch them.
July 27, 2006 At least 25,000 U.S. prisoners are held in solitary confinement. They live in isolation, in small, often windowless cells, for years or even decades, with virtually no human contact. NPR Jamie Fellner, director of the U.S. program for Human Rights Watch, discusses the civil-liberties concerns raised by long-term segregation.
July 27, 2006 Solitary confinement has been used in U.S. prisons since the late 1820s; legal objections emerged soon after. In the past two decades, the practice has become widespread. Roger Pilon, a legal scholar with the Cato Institute, discusses the legal concerns involved.
July 26, 2006 The use of solitary confinement has become widespread in U.S. prisons over the past two decades, but its use actually dates back more than 180 years. From the Quaker philosophy that inspired the practice to its prevalence today, read a history of solitary confinement.