UN Report Compares Solitary Confinement Practices in the U.S. and Around the World
Solitary Watch, United Nations
Oct 28, 2016

The report, Seeing into Solitary: A Review of the Laws and Policies of Certain Nations Regarding Solitary Confinement of Detainees was the subject of a UN event on October 17 featuring speakers from the ACLU, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, and Vance Center for International Justice, among others.

The report includes within its scope 35 jurisdictions, including eight U.S. states (California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas) and twenty-six countries, including the U.S. federal prison system and immigration detention system.

Seeing into Solitary builds on a prior groundbreaking report by Méndez, presented to the UN in 2011, that for the first time declared that solitary confinement may amount to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment and in some cases torture, and may thus, under certain conditions, be prohibited under international law. In that 2011 report, Méndez further called for a categorical ban on subjecting juveniles and people with mental illness to solitary confinement, and to end the practice of prolonged and indefinite solitary confinement.

The 2016 report contains six substantive areas of focus:

• the ostensible purposes of solitary confinement across jurisdictions,
• how the practice is authorized,
• whether and how its imposition can be challenged or appealed legally,
• what limits are in place,
• regulations pertaining to physical conditions such as the use of restraints, and
• general trends or developments toward reform.

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