After voluntarily spending twenty hours in solidarity confinement, Rick Raemisch, the Colorado Department of Corrections Executive Director, has used a New York Times op ed column to call on governments to at least “greatly reduce” if not eliminate its use entirely.

Besides imprisoning more people than any other nation, both in per capita and absolute terms, researchers at last week’s annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago said the United States is the leading practitioner of solitary confinement, holding approximately 80,000 in solitary at any given time.

“Solitary confinement appears to fundamentally alter the brain and induce numerous psychological and physical effects,” they concluded, echoing Raemisch’s observation that “I sat with my mind. How long would it take before Ad Seg [Administrative Segregation] chipped that away? I don’t know, but I’m confident that it would be a battle I would lose.”

Most leading human rights organizations consider long-term solitary confinement to be inhumane, if not torture, and the Center for Constitutional Rights, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union have each written detailed reports [2] [3] about the issue.

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