Article

Solitary Confinement – History, Practice, and Human Rights Standards

Abstract

This paper traces the history of solitary confinement and the gradual development of what eventually became human rights standards on the use of isolation in prisons.
Prison Service JournalIssue 181 3
The history of solitary confinement
In Europe and North America between the 18th
and 19th centuries, the approach to criminal
punishment shifted significantly. A system of
religiously motivated corporal and public
punishment was very gradually substituted by a
modern bureaucratic and rational system,
which was based on secular laws and had the
use of imprisonment as a central feature. As
part of this process the practice of
imprisonment was itself reformed as the
ideology of the modern penitentiary took hold
from the 1770s to the 1850s. A belief in the
ability to rehabilitate criminals through the use
of isolation regimes became a cornerstone of
this modern prison system.
This process was fuelled by the enlightenment
which resulted in law reforms and the formation of
new legal principles now associated with the concept
of the ‘Rechtsstaat’ and that of the ‘Rule of law’ —
essential parts of any democracy. Towards the end of
the 18th century — especially from the 1770s
onwards — local experiments with new prison
structures, systems and regimes took place in various
nations and the ideology of the modern penitentiary
began to take shape. The principle of rehabilitating
prisoners through a system of isolation and moral
reform was associated with some of these
experiments in, for example, England and
Pennsylvania in the US. But it was not until the
construction of the so-called Auburn and
Pennsylvania prison models in the US during the
1820s that the principle of rehabilitation of criminals
through the use of isolation became an ideology
influencing prison construction and prison regimes
throughout the Western world.
The Auburn system permitted inmates to work
together during the day, but under a regime of total
silence where no communication was permitted. In
Pennsylvania-model institutions, on the other hand,
there was no compromise with the ideal of isolation, and
prisoners spent all their time in their cells where they also
did their work. Here the inmate was supposed to turn his
thoughts inward and meet both God and his inner self,
and through such a personal religious experience, to
return to society as a morally cleansed Christian citizen.
In other words, Pennsylvania-model prisons created a
system of large scale solitary confinement of sentenced
prisoners which was applied in prisons in many states in
different parts of the world.3
In the US the Auburn model became the most
popular, but in Europe the Pennsylvania system was
typically favoured. Pennsylvania-model prisons — or
variants resembling them- were constructed in many
nations in different parts of the world, including England,
France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Sweden,
Denmark, Chile, New Zealand, and USA.4The exact
construction, regime, and routines in these institutions
varied from country to country and from prison to prison,
but they all shared common traits, often to a remarkable
degree. In general terms the regime in Pennsylvania
model institutions consisted of around 23 hours in cell,
where the prisoners worked, slept, ate, and washed. Out
of cell time typically consisted of one half hour to one
hour yard time, normally in solitary confinement and
possibly — depending on the prison — of a weekly visit
to the prison church or perhaps a prison school. Many of
these prison churches and sometimes also the prison
schools were constructed panoptically with isolation
booths for individual prisoners, maintaining surveillance
and solitary confinement even at these times. The
wearing of a prison mask was also a regular feature of
Pennsylvania model prisons and inmates were required
Solitary Confinement
– History, Practice, and Human Rights Standards1
Peter Scharff Smith PhD is Research Director of the Danish Institute for Human Rights2.
1. Parts of this article are based on my previous work including: Peter Scharff Smith (2006) ‘The effects of solitary confinement on prison
inmates: a brief history and review of the literature’, in Crime and Justice, vol. 34, University of Chicago Press, pp. 441-528, 2006;
Peter Scharff Smith (2008) ‘Solitary confinement: an introduction to the Istanbul Statement on the Use and Effects of Solitary
Confinement’, in Journal on Rehabilitation of Torture Victims and Prevention of Torture, vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 56-62, 2008; Peter Scharff
Smith (2004) ‘Isolation and Mental Illness in Vridsløselille 1859-1873 — A New Perspective on the Breakthrough of the Modern
Penitentiary’ in Scandinavian Journal of History. Vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 1-25, 2004 (A).
2. The author is grateful to Jonathan Beynon for commenting on an earlier draft.
3. See for example Michel Foucault (1995) Discipline & Punish, Vintage Books 1995, Michael Ignatieff (1978) A Just Measure of Pain,
Macmillan 1978, Mark Colvin (1997) Penitentiaries, Reformatories, and Chain Gangs. Social Theory and the History of Punishment in
Nineteenth-Century America, New York: St. Martin’s Press 1997, and Peter Scharff Smith (2004) ‘A Religious Technology of the Self.
Rationality and Religion in the Rise of the Modern Penitentiary’ in Punishment and Society no. 2, 2004 (B).
4. See for example Norman Johnston (2000) ‘Forms of Constraint. A History of Prison Architecture’, Chicago: University of Illinois Press,
2000, chapter 4-6; Ricardo Salvatore and Carlos Aguirre (ed.) (1996) ‘The Birth of the Penitentiary in Latin America’, Austin: University
of Texas Press, 1996, chapter 1.
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to put this on while moving around the prison so they
could not see the face of another inmate, or be seen.
Solitary confinement was thereby almost complete. The
only exceptions were the visits of ‘moral agents’ who
were supposed to further the reform process.5This
typically meant that the prison governor, the prison
chaplain and various other educated staff engaged
individual prisoners in private conversations in their cells.
In reality, these conversations had a limited impact due to
the high ratio of prisoners to ‘moral agents’ in a modern
penitentiary. In a Danish
Pennsylvania model prison the
governor calculated that each
inmate could — as a maximum —
expect a daily rate of six minutes
personal conversation.6The staff
simply did not have sufficient
time.
As described by a Danish
prisoner at the time, one was
‘instantly overpowered’ by a
‘depressing’ and ‘poignant
solitude’ that went against the
natural desire of ‘both men of
nature and men of culture’ for a
social life. As one who had
experienced it himself, he knew
‘what it meant to measure out
the cell with tiny footsteps hour
after hour, while over and over
again a perpetual emptiness
grinds away and throws the
prisoner into a condition which
borders on insanity’.7
Partly due to the pronounced negative health
effects associated with the prolonged use of solitary
confinement, documented at the time, the
Pennsylvania model passed gradually out of use — but
at very different points in time in different countries.
The use of large scale Pennsylvania model solitary
confinement was abandoned relatively quickly in
several US states — around the middle of the 19th
century — but continued in several places in Europe. In
Holland, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, the
model continued well into the 20th century.8
After the Second World War a new use for solitary
confinement emerged in connection with stories about
Chinese ‘brainwashing’ of prisoners of war (POWs) in
the Korean War. Cases of ‘thought reform’ were
apparently achieved through the use of techniques that
involved social isolation. Later research confirmed that
solitary confinement was used as a coercive measure in
some Communist countries during the cold war. In the
USSR, for example, the KGB used it pre-trial with so-
called ‘enemies of the state’ as a coercive tool in an
interrogation — and confession — process.9
These practices caught the attention of
psychologists and psychiatrists
who during the 1960s and 1970s
conducted countless experiments
in sensory deprivation that
described how isolation could
have dramatic impact on
individuals. The CIA was very
interested in both the communist
prison practices and the scientific
research as becomes apparent to
anyone who cares to study the
CIAs manual on
Counterintelligence interrogation
from 1963 as well as their later
Human Resource Exploitation
Training Manual from 1983. The
former describes how solitary
confinement can be used
coercively together with focused
interrogations. According to the
manual the interrogator can
exploit the otherwise isolated
detainee’s intense need for social
contact and sensory input: ‘As the interrogator
becomes linked in the subject’s mind with the reward of
lessened anxiety, human contact, and meaningful
activity, and thus with providing relief for growing
discomfort, the questioner assumes a benevolent role
... the regressed subject [will] view the interrogator as a
father-figure. The result, normally, is a strengthening of
the subject’s tendencies toward compliance’.10 It is now
well known how US personnel have used solitary
confinement in similar ways at the Guantanamo Bay
detention camp, as well as in facilities in Iraq and
Afghanistan.
In addition to the above, solitary confinement has
continued to be used in most prison systems in some
4 Issue 181
As described by a
Danish prisoner at
the time, one
was ‘instantly
overpowered’ by a
‘depressing’ and
‘poignant solitude’
that went against
the natural desire of
‘both men of nature
and men of culture’
for a social life.
5. See, for example, Smith 2004 (A).
6. Peter Scharff Smith (2003) ‘Moralske hospitaler — Det moderne fængselsvæsens gennembrud internationalt og i Danmark ca. 1770-
1870’, Forum, 2003, p. 234.
7. Johnsen (1929), quoted from Peter Scharff Smith “’Degenerate Criminals’. Mental Health and Psychiatric Studies of Danish Prisoners in
Solitary Confinement, 1870—1920”, in Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 35, No. 8, 2008, p. 1050.
8. Smith 2006, p. 467.
9. Hinkle LE and Wolff HG. (1956) Communist interrogation and indoctrination of ‘enemies of the state’. Arch. Neurol. Psychiatry
1956;76:115-74.
10. KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation 1963, p. 90. See www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB122/index.htm#kubark.
(assessed September 2008).
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form — for example as a punishment for infraction of
prison rules — but on a much smaller scale than was
the case with the Pennsylvania prison model. Many of
these practices, however, remain in operation.
Contemporary solitary confinement practices
The latest report to the UN General Assembly
from the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred
Nowak, has a whole chapter devoted to the issue of
solitary confinement. Here he briefly touches upon
some of the current isolation practices in different
prisons in different parts of the
world: as disciplinary
punishment, as a pre-trial
measure, as a regime on death
row, as a detention and
interrogation tool used to either
‘train’ individuals or elicit
information from them, and
finally as a purely punitive
measure used to ‘impose
additional punishment’.11 In the
following I will provide examples
of these and other topical
solitary confinement practices.
First and foremost, most
prison systems feature solitary
confinement among their
repertoire of disciplinary punishments for prisoners.
There are countless variations in this regard but
typically, although not always, such punishment will last
for a limited number of days or perhaps weeks. In
Denmark, for example, the maximum duration of
placement in isolation as a punishment for violating
prison rules, is four weeks.12 Sometimes, in complete
contradiction to international standards, restraints are
also applied on such prisoners. In a prison in Nigeria the
UN Special Rapporteur on Torture for example
encountered ‘a teenage boy suffering from severe
mental illness, locked in a punishment cell with his feet
shackled’.13
In addition to the use of isolation as a response to
violations of prison rules there are usually a small
number of inmates in any prison system who the
authorities find very difficult to handle under normal
conditions. Special regimes involving prolonged
solitary confinement are often used for such prisoners.
Such a practice is technically speaking not
punishment, and is typically referred to as
‘administrative isolation’ of inmates who are deemed
at risk of escaping or disturbing prison order. The level
of psychiatric morbidity among this group of inmates
tends to be high — as is also the case with those
subjected to isolation as punishment.14 Recent years
have, in some jurisdictions, seen an increase in the use
of solitary confinement as an
administrative tool. Probably the
most well known example of
this is the so-called Supermax
prisons in the US. Conditions in
these facilities typically include
solitary confinement for 22.5 to
24 hours each day in a barren
environment under constant
high-tech surveillance with
limited human contact, with
exercise being carried out in
isolation and without access to
recreational equipment. Visits
and phone calls are infrequent
and severely restricted if allowed
at all. Placement in Supermax
can be indeterminate and go on for years and even
decades.15
Solitary confinement is sometimes also an integral
part of regimes on ‘death row’. Such arrangements
have, for example, been reported by the CPT (The
European Committee for the Prevention of Torture)
during visits to Bulgaria and the Ukraine.16 In his latest
report Manfred Nowak also described encountering
death row prisoners in prolonged solitary confinement
in Abkhazia and Mongolia.17
Political prisoners can also be subjected to solitary
confinement. According to Human Rights Watch forty
political prisoners in Tunisia in 2005 had been subjected
to prolonged solitary confinement for several years and
up to eleven years in one particular case.18
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First and foremost,
most prison systems
feature solitary
confinement among
their repertoire
of disciplinary
punishments for
prisoners.
11. 2008 General Assembly report — A/63/175, ‘Interim report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading
treatment or punishment’, 28. July 2008, p. 19. f.
12. Hans Jørgen Engbo ‘Straffuldbyrdelsesret’ 2. edition, Copenhagen 2005, p. 264.
13. 2008 General Assembly report — A/63/175, p. 19. NB:
14. Peter Scharff Smith (2006) ‘The Effects of Solitary Confinement on Prison Inmates: A Brief History and Review of the Literature’ in
Michael Tonry (ed.) Crime and Justice, vol. 34, 2006, p. 451 ff.
15. Craig Haney (2003) ‘Mental Health Issues in Long-Term Solitary and ‘Supermax’ Confinement’ in Crime & Delinquency 49(1), 2003;
Sharon Shalev (2005) Solitary control and punitive isolation: ’new’ forms of solitary confinement in Supermax prisons of the USA, Phd.
thesis, London 2005, p. 48; Lorna Rhodes (2004) Total Confinement. Madness and Reason in the Maximum Security Prison, 2004; Roy
King (1999) ‘The rise and rise of supermax: An American solution in search of a problem?’ in Punishment and Society (1), 1999.
16. See Jim Murdoch (2006) The treatment of prisoners. European standards, Strasbourg 2006, p. 236 f.
17. 2008 General Assembly report — A/63/175, p. 19.
18. Human Rights Watch (2005) ‘Tunisia. Crushing the person, crushing a movement. The solitary confinement of political prisoners’, April
2005, vol. 17, No 4(E).
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Another well known use of solitary confinement is
pre-trial where isolation can be implemented for
remand prisoners to protect an ongoing criminal
investigation. This practice has been termed a
particularly ‘Scandinavian phenomenon’19, and
Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and to some extent
Iceland, have all received international human rights
criticism on this account in the last decades.20 In
Denmark, for example, 8 per cent of all pre-trial
detainees were subjected to solitary confinement
during 2006, although an official large scale scientific
study in 1997 recommended the
abandonment of this practice on
medical and psychological
grounds.21
When used pre-trial, the
impact of solitary confinement
can pressure prisoners into
confessing or giving evidence,
even if this was not the
intention. But solitary
confinement and other isolation
practices can also be used —
and indeed are used —
purposely as a part of coercive
interrogation. This has been the
case both at Guantanamo and in
facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan,
where isolation practices have
often been used together with
other coercive and abusive techniques.22 According to
a report from Physicians for Human Rights, ‘the use of
isolation, sensory deprivation, and sensory overload
became almost routine in the treatment of detainees’.
One Iraqi detainee reported ‘having been taken to a
dark room where he was shackled for most of the
time and kept isolated and naked in a cold cell for
approximately the first three weeks of his
incarceration there’.23 Such practices were typically
part of an interrogation process where the
interrogators relied on the effects of solitary
confinement to induce compliance and assist with
eliciting information from detainees.
Finally, a somewhat related use of solitary
confinement from Communist Cold War detention and
interrogation methods is the use of isolation in
achieving ‘thought reform’ — popularly known as brain
washing.24 The UN Special Rapporteur has received
allegations of prolonged solitary confinement at a
Chinese re-education facility for women, where
‘detainees alleged that they were held [in small solitary
confinement cells] for up to 60 days, where they
received ‘training’ to induce them
to renounce their beliefs’.25
Developing standards — the
period before WWII
The international standards
that apply today with regard to
prisons in general and solitary
confinement in particular have
largely been conceived within a
human rights framework,
though the process of creating
such standards goes back to the
period before the Second World
War and the creation of the
human rights conventions.
Evidence on the detrimental
health effects of Pennsylvania
model imprisonment continued to mount during the
19th and early 20th centuries and gradually
influenced practice through developing national legal
standards or international expert recommendations.
As an example of the former, the U.S. Supreme Court
ruled in 1890, in a case concerning solitary
confinement of a prisoner under sentence of death in
the state of Colorado, that solitary confinement ‘was
an additional punishment of the most important and
painful character’ and described vividly how solitary
confinement in US nineteenth-century prisons had
... solitary
confinement and
other isolation
practices can also
be used — and
indeed are used —
purposely as a part
of coercive
interrogation.
19. Malcolm Evans and Rod Morgan describe pre-trial solitary confinement as a ‘… peculiarly Scandinavian phenomenon…’ in Preventing
Torture, 1998, p. 247.
20. Peter Scharff Smith (2005) ‘Varetægtsfængsling i isolation – en besynderlig Skandinavisk tradition?’ in Social Kritik, no. 99, June 2005.
See also Peter Scharff Smith (2006) ‘Prisons and Human Rights: The Case of Solitary Confinement in Denmark and the US from the
1820s until Today’ in Stéphanie Lagoutte, Hans-Otto Sano and Peter Scharff Smith (eds.) Human Rights in Turmoil. Facing Threats,
Consolidating Achievements, 2006, pp. 221-248.
21. See pre-trial solitary confinement figures here: http://www.rigsadvokaten.dk/page62.aspx?recordid62=1122. Concerning the 1997
report, see Henrik Steen Andersen, Tommy Lillebæk and Dorte Sestoft ‘Efterundersøgelsen – en opfølgningsundersøgelse af danske
varetægtsarrestanter’, 1997, p. 59.
22. See for example: ‘Broken Laws, Broken Lives. Medical Evidence of Torture by US Personnel and its Impact’, a report by Physicians for
Human Rights, June 2008, p. 77 ff.; ‘Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantanamo
Bay, Cuba’, Center for Constitutional Rights, July 2006, p. 16. f.; Peter Scharff Smith (2006) ‘Fra det moderne fængselsvæsen til
Guantanamo. Isolationsfængsling, læger, fangebehandling og afhøringsmetoder 1830 til i dag’ in Bibliotek for Læger, vol. 198, March
2006, p. 28 f.
23. ‘Broken Laws, Broken Lives. Medical Evidence of Torture by US Personnel and its Impact’, a report by Physicians for Human Rights,
June 2008, p. 78.
24. Kathleen Taylor (2004) ‘Brainwashing. The Science of Thought Control’, Oxford University Press, 2004.
25. 2008 General Assembly report — A/63/175, p. 19.
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affected the inmates and damaged their mental
health severely.26
This condemnation of solitary confinement was
somewhat slower to develop within the international
community of prison experts, largely due to the
continuing popularity of the Pennsylvania model across
several nations. Three international prison conferences
were held between 1846 and 1857 during the heyday
of the Pennsylvania model and although both this and
the Auburn system were heavily debated, there was no
general criticism of the role of solitary confinement. On
the contrary the eight resolutions adopted at the
Frankfurt conference in 1846
‘approved the policy of separate
confinement’ where no
communication was allowed
between inmates.27
The International Prison
Commission (IPC) held further
conferences from 1872 onwards.
At the penitentiary congress in
London in 1872, solitary
confinement was subject to a
lively discussion but no
resolutions.28 This undoubtedly
reflected the fact that the
Pennsylvania system was still
practised in several countries, as
illustrated by the minutes from
the later conference in Brussels in
1900. Here the cellular system of
isolation was endorsed although
with less enthusiasm than previously. The Belgians even
insisted ‘that cellular imprisonment [i.e. solitary
confinement] even prolonged ten years or beyond,
assuming the previous or subsequent elimination of
certain elements, has no more unfavorable effect upon
the physical or mental health of prisoners than any
other mode of imprisonment’.29
At a penitentiary congress in Prague in 1930,
however, international resolutions were drawn up that
referred to some troubling aspects of solitary
confinement. The congress specified that if solitary
confinement was used for a short duration, adequate
medical service was to be available. The congress
furthermore advised that solitary confinement should
not be used in connection with sentences of long
duration.30 Nine years later Wilson and Pescor
concluded in their book Problems in Prison Psychiatry
that the inmates in Pennsylvania model prisons ‘went
insane instead of being reformed’, and described the
use of solitary confinement during both day and night
as uncivilized.31
In 1935 a penitentiary congress was held in Berlin
and the IPC was transformed into the IPPC (the
International Penal and Penitentiary Commission). The
Berlin conference was heavily influenced by the Nazi
regime and Dr. Goebbels was among the official
speakers.32 The IPPC continued to cooperate with the
Nazis during the war and consequently it was
dissolved by the UN General Assembly in 1950 and
the international work with
prison standards continued
within the UN.
Developing standards —
Human rights and solitary
confinement after WWII
It is not possible to provide a
detailed account of all the
relevant human rights
instruments, principles, and
judgments within the scope of
the present article. So the
following will only mention some
of the important international
and regional (European)
instruments and the standards
they promote.
On an international level
there are several Conventions — as well as the original
Declaration of Human Rights from 1948 — which are
relevant to the area of prisons and human rights. But
these Conventions do not themselves address the issue
of solitary confinement directly although their articles
of course form the basis of interpretations of its use.
Most importantly, the UN Convention on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR) from 1966 states that ‘All
persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with
humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of
the human person’ (Article 10.1). The Human Rights
Committee has later interpreted this in the following
manner: ‘… persons deprived of their liberty [may not]
be subjected to any hardship or constraint other than
that resulting from the deprivation of liberty; respect
for the dignity of such persons must be guaranteed
under the same conditions as for that of free persons.
Issue 181 7
At a penitentiary
congress in Prague
in 1930, however,
international
resolutions were
drawn up that
referred to some
troubling aspects
of solitary
confinement.
26. In re Medley, 134 U.S. 160 [1890].
27. Benedict S. Alper and Jerry F. Boren (1972) ‘Crime: International Agenda’, 1972, p. 14.
28. Negley K. Teeters (1949) ‘Deliberations of the International Penal and Penitentiary Congresses. Questions and Answers 1872-1935’
Temple University Book Store 1949, p. 38.
29. Quoted from Alper and Boren (1972), p. 40.
30. Teeters (1949), pp. 38, 110, 172. See also Smith 2006, p. 467.
31. Wilson, J. G., and M. J. Pescor (1939) ‘Problems in Prison Psychiatry’, Idaho: Caldwell, 1939, p. 24.
32. Alper and Boren 1972, p. 71.
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Persons deprived of their liberty enjoy all the rights set
forth in the Covenant, subject to the restrictions that
are unavoidable in a closed environment’.33
But if we move from the actual human rights
conventions to the area of soft law we find human
rights instruments that refer more specifically to
isolation practices. This was only indirectly the case
with the so-called UN Standard Minimum Rules
(SMR)for the Treatment of Prisoners that were adopted
at the first UN congress on the prevention of crime and
treatment of offenders in Geneva in 1955, where the
UN in effect continued the work of the IPC/IPPC. But a
subsequent revision in 1977 prohibits the use of close
confinement and placement in dark cells specifically
and states that ‘Punishment by close confinement …
shall never be inflicted unless the
medical officer has examined the
prisoner and certified in writing
that he is fit to sustain it’ (Rule
32,1). In 1990 the so-called UN
Basic Principles for the Treatment
of Prisoners were more direct,
stating that ‘Efforts addressed to
the abolition of solitary
confinement as a punishment, or
to the restriction of its use,
should be undertaken and
encouraged’ (principle 7).
The UN Committee Against
Torture (CAT) has criticized
isolation practices in different
parts of the world and has, for example, recommended
that ‘the use of solitary confinement be abolished,
particularly during pre-trial detention, or at least that it
should be strictly and specifically regulated by law
(maximum duration, etc.) and that judicial supervision
should be introduced’.34 The UN committee on the
Rights of the Child has further recommended that
solitary confinement should not be used against
children.35
On a regional level the formation of the
European Council in 1949 resulted in the creation of
the European Convention on Human Rights from
1950 and the European Convention for the
Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment from 1987. The latter led
to the creation of the European Committee for the
Prevention of Torture (CPT), which has played a key
role in promoting regional human rights standards in
relation to prisons. The CPT has stated that solitary
confinement can amount to inhuman and degrading
treatment and thereby violate the convention. The
CPT has also, like the CAT, criticized isolation
practices in several countries and recommended
reform — that is either abolishing or limiting the use
of solitary confinement to exceptional circumstances.
The CPT has also on several occasions stressed the
importance of securing isolated inmates a higher level
of social contact.36 Finally, the revised European Prison
Rules of 2006 clearly state that ‘Solitary confinement
shall be imposed as a punishment only in exceptional
cases and for a specified period of time, which shall
be as short as possible’ (rule 60.5).
But the above recommendations and standards
that deal specifically with solitary
confinement lie within the area
of soft law, which is not in itself
legally binding — although they
may become so if they are
applied in a court of law. In terms
of actual case law there are
relevant decisions involving
isolation regimes from the UN
Human Rights Committee as well
as the European Court of Human
Rights and the former
Commission on Human Rights.
The UN Human Rights
Committee has stipulated that
use of prolonged solitary
confinement may amount to a breach of Article 7
(which prohibits torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment) of the ICCPR37 and has in the
case of Campos v. Peru found a specific isolation regime
to violate both Article 7 and Article 10 (the right to be
treated with humanity and dignity)of the ICCPR.38
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)
has through numerous judgments been instrumental
in securing prisoner rights in many areas, and has
considered several cases involving the issue of solitary
confinement in prisons. It is beyond the scope of the
present article to provide a detailed account of these
interesting cases. One can, however, conclude that
while it has on the one hand been recognized that
‘…complete sensory isolation coupled with total
isolation, can destroy the personality and constitutes a
form of inhuman treatment which cannot be justified
by the requirements of security or any other reason’39,
8 Issue 181
The UN Human
Rights Committee
has stipulated that
use of prolonged
solitary confinement
may amount to
a breach of
Article 7 ...
33. The Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 21[44], article 10 (1-3) 1992.
34. CAT, Visit report, Denmark, 1. May 1997, para 186.
35. CRC/C/15/Add.273, ‘Denmark’, 30 September 2005, para. 58 a.
36. See footnote 1.
37. Human Rights Committee, General comment 20/44, 3. April 1992.
38 . Campos v. Peru 9. January 1998.
39. Ramirez Sanchez v. France, Grand Chamber, 4. July 2006, para. 123.
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the Court has on the other hand been very reluctant
to judge actual solitary confinement regimes as a
violation of the Convention. This was clearly
demonstrated in the Rohde vs. Denmark case where a
detainee who became insane as a result of a nearly
one year stay in pre-trial solitary confinement. The
Danish Supreme Court and the Danish Legal-
Psychiatric Clinic acknowledged this fact, which was
not disputed by the ECtHR. Still the court found no
violation of Article 3 of the
ECHR — albeit three out of
seven judges gave dissenting
opinions and actually did find
such a breach.40
Such judgments have
caused experts to argue that
courts sometimes are reluctant
to either acknowledge or deal
with the psychological pains of
imprisonment — in this case
specifically the effects of solitary
confinement. The ECtHR has
specifically — and in my mind
quite correctly — been criticised
for ‘… a lack of imagination, or
at least of judicial
understanding of the impact of
solitary confinement upon
prisoners and too-ready an
acceptance of state interests’.41
In the case of Rhode v. Denmark
the Court even seemed to
transfer some of the
responsibility for monitoring the
health of the applicant to members of his family, who
— according to the Court — should have reported
their concerns about the mental state of the
applicant to the prison management and prison
doctors.42 On this issue the three dissenting judges
noted that the responsibility for effectively
monitoring the applicant’s health and carrying out a
timely psychological or psychiatric assessment (which
was only done once in Rhode’s case and less than one
month after he had been detained in solitary
confinement) ‘should not depend on a request [by
relatives] but instead should be part of a system of
automatic regular monitoring of long-term detainees
in solitary confinement. We believe that only under
these conditions can the required monitoring be
considered effective’.43
I think that the ECtHR has been much more
progressive in terms of securing prisoners rights in
many other cases — also specifically with regard to the
state’s responsibility for monitoring the health of
inmates.44 But with regard to the use of solitary
confinement the question still remains: how can we
with the current standards and case law protect the
rights and health of those
subjected to it?
Developing standards in light
of the health effects of
solitary confinement
As we have seen, human
rights conventions and soft law
set a certain standard with regard
to the use of solitary confinement.
But these standards are clearly
minimum standards and one can
argue that they are not in line with
what research tells us about the
actual effects of solitary
confinement. To put it differently:
by following human rights
standards with regard to solitary
confinement a state can avoid the
worst kinds of abuses in this area
— but can still maintain practices
which, according to research and
experience, severely endanger the
health of those subjected to it.
I would argue that we are not only faced with the
challenge of promoting existing human rights
standards with regard to solitary confinement —
although this of course still makes very good sense —
but we also need to work on the further development
of the standards themselves. Research has made it
increasingly clear that policy and international
standards in this area are out of step with the
empirical findings.
Whilst international debate over the effects of
solitary confinement seems to have been resolved
around the 1930s in a broad consensus between
psychiatrists and prison experts that it was
detrimental45 – discussion was reopened after WWII in
Issue 181 9
... with regard to
the use of solitary
confinement the
question still
remains:
how can we
with the current
standards and case
law protect the
rights and health
of those subjected
to it?
40. Rhode v. Denmark, Application no. 69332/01, 21. July 2005.
41. Jim Murdoch ‘The treatment of prisoners. European standards’ Council of Europe Publishing 2006, p. 255.
42. Rhode v. Denmark, Application no. 69332/01, 21. July 2005, para. 109.
43. Rhode v. Denmark, Application no. 69332/01, 21. July 2005, see ‘JOINT DISSENTING OPINION OF JUDGES ROZAKIS, LOUCAIDES AND
TULKENS’.
44. See KEENAN v. THE UNITED KINGDOM, Application no. 27229/95, 3. April 2001.
45. Peter Scharff Smith (2006) ‘The Effects of Solitary Confinement on Prison Inmates: A Brief History and Review of the Literature’ in
Michael Tonry (ed.) Crime and Justice, vol. 34, 2006, p. 466 f.
U 232 PSJ 181 CRAIG Text (Jan 09):Prison Service Journal 6/1/09 16:14 Page 9
Prison Service Journal
connection with differing opinions regarding the
experimental psychological research into sensory
deprivation.46 In recent decades however, the vast
majority of studies on the effects of solitary
confinement in places like Norway, Denmark,
Switzerland, South Africa, Canada, and USA have
reported that solitary confinement has negative health
effects, and a broad consensus that the health effects
clearly disfavour the use of
solitary confinement has been re-
established.47 The central harmful
feature is that it reduces
meaningful social contact to an
absolute minimum: a level of
social and psychological stimulus
that many individuals will
experience as insufficient to
remain reasonably healthy and
relatively well functioning’ (for
further information see Craig
Haney’s article in the current
issue).48
Unfortunately, the human
rights minimum standards
currently in operation in this
area do not secure a sufficient
amount of meaningful social
contact to mitigate its harmful
effects. Current standards
protect isolated individuals from
severe abuse in the form of, for
example, strict sensory
deprivation or clearly unfit
physical conditions, but regimes
in which prisoners’ physical
conditions live up to normal cell standards and in
which they receive an hour exercise in the open air
each day cannot currently be considered a violation of
human rights – depending on the exact circumstances
of the regime. Some close confinement regimes may
be criticised by the CPT, CAT, and others on the basis
of soft law standards but this does not mean that a
court of law — such as the ECtHR — will judge them
to be in violation of actual conventions. Not even
prolonged solitary confinement will necessarily
amount to a human rights violation49 — regardless of
the fact that research suggests that many of these
individuals will suffer serious detrimental health
effects.
We therefore have to improve human rights
standards in this area — in particular with regard to the
fact that isolated inmates need access to
psychologically meaningful social contact. The creation
of the so-called Istanbul Statement on the Use and
Effects of Solitary Confinement constitutes such an
attempt. This statement was
adopted on 9. December 2007 at
the International Psychological
Trauma Symposium in Istanbul
and is signed by several
prominent international experts
in the field of solitary
confinement, prisons and torture
representing numerous national
and international institutions.50
The Istanbul Statement
determines that the use of
solitary confinement should be
absolutely prohibited for ‘death
row and life-sentenced prisoners
by virtue of their sentence’, for
‘mentally ill prisoners’, and for
‘children under the age of 18’.51
The Statement furthermore
concludes that ‘regardless of the
specific circumstances, and
whether solitary confinement is
used in connection with
disciplinary or administrative
segregation or to prevent
collusion in remand prisons,
effort is required to raise the level
of meaningful social contacts for prisoners. This can be
done in a number of ways, such as raising the level of
staff-prisoner contact, allowing access to social
activities with other prisoners, allowing more visits, and
allowing and arranging in-depth talks with
psychologists, psychiatrists, religious prison personnel,
and volunteers from the local community. Especially
important are the possibilities for maintaining and
developing relations with the outside world including
spouses, partners, children, other family and friends’.52
Such a recommendation will in the long run
hopefully be translated into specific standards and
10 Issue 181
In recent decades
the majority of
studies on the
effects of solitary
confinement in
places like Norway,
Denmark,
Switzerland, South
Africa, Canada, and
USA have reported
that solitary
confinement has
negative health
effects ...
46. See, for example, Morris and Kurki (2001), p. 113, and Michael Jackson. Justice Behind the Walls. Human Rights in Canadian Prisons,
available online at http://www.justicebehindthewalls.net/. See also Smith 2006.
47. Haney 2006; Smith 2006; Henrik Steen Andersen 2006 ‘Mental Health in Prison Populations. A review – with special emphasis on a
study of Danish prisoners on remand’ in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica Supplementum, 110(424), 2004.
48. Smith (2006), p. 503.
49. See for example Rohde vs. Denmark, Application no. 69332/01, 21. July 2005, and Sanchez vs. France, Application no. 59450/00, 27.
January 2005.
50. See footnote 1.
51. See footnote 1.
52. See footnote 1.
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Prison Service Journal
practices. And while it ‘is of course difficult — and most
likely impossible — to identify some sort of breaking
point: the minimum level of social contact needed to
avoid the effects of solitary confinement … it seems fair
to conclude that one or two hours of out of cell time
(even including some social contact) is not enough.
Whether three, four, five, or six hours would suffice to
eliminate the differences between isolation and non-
isolation is not known, but even three hours of out of
cell time including social contact would most likely
create much better and mentally healthier conditions’.53
It is very encouraging to note that the UN Special
Rapporteur on Torture in his latest report to the
General Assembly also pushed for better standards
with regard to the use of solitary confinement. In the
opinion of the Special Rapporteur ‘the use of solitary
confinement should be kept to a minimum, used in
very exceptional cases, for as short a time as possible,
and only as a last resort. Regardless of the specific
circumstances of its use, effort is required to raise the
level of social contacts for prisoners: prisoner-prison
staff contact, allowing access to social activities with
other prisoners, allowing more visits and providing
access to mental health services’.54 Finally the Special
Rapporteur ‘strongly encourages States to reflect
upon the [Istanbul] Statement as a useful tool in
efforts to promote the respect and protection of the
rights of detainees’.55 With such a clear
recommendation to the UN — and thereby States
across the globe — from the highest UN expert in the
field of torture we can hopefully expect better
protection for isolated prisoners in the future.
Issue 181 11
53. Smith 2006, p. 505.
54. 2008 General Assembly report — A/63/175, p. 21.
55. 2008 General Assembly report — A/63/175, p. 21.
PERRIE LECTURES
ESSAY AWARD 2009
The Perrie Lectures is an annual event which has the purpose of stimulating dialogue between
criminal justice organisations, the voluntary sector and all those with an academic, legal or
practical interest in offenders and their families. The Perrie Lecture committee share the belief
that through these lectures and the ensuing dialogue, the care of offenders can be improved
and penal policy, in its broadest sense, advanced.
To supplement the lectures the committee has decided to initiate an essay competition for NOMS staff.
The aim of this competition is to attract views on the subject of the lectures from a variety of perspectives within
the NOMS agency, this may be at frontline staff level in prisons or the community or from a management and
strategic level as well as from administrators. In so doing we hope that we can spread the debate around the
subject of the lectures and so further the aims and purpose of the Perrie Lectures.
The title for the lectures in 2009 is
ʻWHAT ARE PRISONS FOR? TO HOLD, TO HELP OR TO HURT?ʼ
Essays are therefore invited on this yearʼs title above.
With essay length to be 1000 – 2000 words.
All essays will be reviewed by the committee and a winner announced in time to attend the lectures
and receive their £250 award.
Essays must be submitted to Al Reid, al.reid@hmps.gsi.gov.uk or in hard copy to
Rm 105, Cleland House, Page Street, London SW1P 4LN
Closing date for entries is Friday 17th April 2009
The 2009 Perrie Lectures will take place on 5th June 2009 at
HM Prison Service College, Newbold Revel, Rugby.
U 232 PSJ 181 CRAIG Text (Jan 09):Prison Service Journal 6/1/09 16:14 Page 11
... The extensive problems with the solitary confinement regime in Vridsløselille continued until the system was disbanded in the early 1930s, and as the discipline of psychiatry developed, a range of new diagnoses were introduced to describe the health effects of solitary confinement, including for example "neuralgia, " "melancholia, " "nervousness, " and "hysteria" -illnesses that were reported mainly and sometimes exclusively in prisons with solitary confinement regimes. 42 Ironically, the development of psychiatry and the biological turn this discipline undertook during the second half of the nineteenth century meant that the health effects encountered in prisons were often explained as having a biological reason (often termed "degeneration") and not a social/situational cause. So despite a great willingness on the part of the early management in Vridsløselille penitentiary to acknowledge the effects of solitary confinement, the question was passed into the hands of the rising class of mental health professionals -the psychiatrists -who often removed the blame from the regime of solitary confinement and offered biological determinism as a substitute. ...
... Smith, 2004a, 18. 41 Id., 15.42 Smith, 2008, see for example 1059. 43 Id., 1062. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter traces the history of solitary confinement practices and their effects in prisons and places of detention from the rise of the modern penitentiary in the United States and Europe during the nineteenth century and up until present day, examining methods used in different countries around the world. It discusses how various forms of isolation have been employed for very different purposes and demonstrates how the effects of solitary confinement have been discovered in different contexts during the last two centuries. Nevertheless, these effects have been forgotten or neglected at several important junctures during the history of imprisonment. Today, few doubt that solitary confinement often has powerful consequences for the mind and body of prisoners, but the degree to which lawmakers and prison administrators acknowledge this varies greatly.
... Если тема индивидуальной принудительной изоляции (например, одиночного тюремного заключения [Лапшин, 2007;Човдырова, 2000;Scharff, 2009]) или добровольной социальной изоляции девиантной личности [Ishikawa, 2006;Teo et al., 2015;Кляйненберг, 2014] достаточно изучена как в отечественной, так и в зарубежной, чаще всего психологической, литературе, то явлению так называемой групповой изоляции посвящено значительно меньше работ. Многие вопросы, относящиеся к компетенции социальной психологии, рассматривались на фоне психофизиологических или медико-биологических разработок проблемы [Хрящева, 2000; Широкова, 1983; Волков и др., 1976]. ...
... Because supermaximum solitary confinement in prisons nation- wide has not historically and is not currently restricted to death row inmates, a broader literature is available on the psychological impacts of this isolation (see Arrigo & Bullock, 2008;Cohen, 2006;Grassian, 2006;Haney, 2003Haney, , 2006Haney, , 2008Haney & Lynch, 1997;Lovell, 2008;McLeod, 2009;Pizarro & Stenius, 2004;Smith, 2009Smith, , 2011Toch, 2001Toch, , 2003. Though a comprehensive review is beyond the scope of this study, the scholarly literature generally supports a conclusion that sustained supermaximum conditions of confinement are both psychologically painful and deleterious (but see Metzner & Dvoskin, 2006;O'Keefe et al., 2013; the latter criticized for mischaracterized literature and meth- odological weaknesses by Smith, 2011). ...
... Because supermaximum solitary confinement in prisons nationwide has not historically and is not currently restricted to death row inmates, a broader literature is available on the psychological impacts of this isolation (see Arrigo & Bullock, 2008;Cohen, 2006;Grassian, 2006;Haney, 2003Haney, , 2006Haney, , 2008Haney & Lynch, 1997;Lovell, 2008;McLeod, 2009;Pizarro & Stenius, 2004;Smith, 2009Smith, , 2011Toch, 2001Toch, , 2003. Though a comprehensive review is beyond the scope of this study, the scholarly literature generally supports a conclusion that sustained supermaximum conditions of confinement are both psychologically painful and deleterious (but see Metzner & Dvoskin, 2006;O'Keefe et al., 2013; the latter criticized for mischaracterized literature and methodological weaknesses by Smith, 2011). ...
Article
The confinement of capital punishment (death-sentenced) inmates nationwide is typified by marked interpersonal isolation and activity deprivation on segregated death rows. These supermaximum security measures are ostensibly based on an assumption that capital punishment inmates are at high risk for violence. Supermaximum confinement on death row has high costs: fiscal, staffing, and psychological. Prior research on capital punishment inmates mainstreamed in the general prison population or under conditions approximating this confinement has reported low violence rates. This study provided a 25-year follow-up on the Missouri Department of Corrections unique policy of "mainstreaming" capital punishment inmates into the general population of the Potosi Correctional Center (PCC). Findings remained consistent in showing that mainstreamed capital punishment inmates (N =85) had equivalent or lower rates of violent misconduct than inmates serving life-without-parole (N = 702) or term-sentences (N = 3,000). The failure of assumptions of high violence risk undergirding death row has important public policy and correctional implications.
Thesis
This thesis explores the experiences and perspectives of men imprisoned in the segregation unit at HMP Whitemoor in 2019, specifically with a view to understanding how the law functioned in this unit. HMP Whitemoor opened in 1992 and is one of eight prisons in the long-term high security estate (‘LTHSE’) in England. It is able to accommodate 458 men convicted of the most serious crimes (such as murder, rape and terrorism offences). The segregation unit has a variable capacity. It has 30 individual cells, the population of which fluctuated on a daily basis during this research (between 25 and 30 men). Segregating individuals away from the general prison population has existed in the English prison system at least since the 1700s. I was able to trace the usage of segregation back to the Penitentiary Act 1779 which called for the use of solitary imprisonment, accompanied by labour and religious instruction (London Metropolitan Archives, 2018). Although a long-standing tradition of the English penal system, very little research explores segregation in English prisons. In fact, this study is the first of its kind, in which a researcher has spent an extended period of time undertaking an in-depth ethnographic study in a typically impenetrable part of the English prison system. It is also the first time that segregation has been considered in the context of legal mechanisms and the influence of law. The main fieldwork was conducted over a four-month period at HMP Whitemoor. It draws on semi-structured interviews with 25 prisoners and 17 staff, as well as rich and extended periods of observation of life in the segregation unit. I focus on three areas which were of interest from the start of my PhD but the nuances of which developed during the fieldwork. Firstly, I explore how segregation is and should be used, and how law sets the parameters of such usage (in theory at least). Secondly, I investigate the complex web of laws and rules, as currently applies to segregation, and their relationship with the actors responsible for their implementation. Thirdly, I examine the context within which the laws and rules are implemented, to make the argument that laws and rules are not only capable of being undermined by the culture of people but also the culture of context; whereby the application of, and accessibility to, law is limited by the prison environment. Segregation units are characterised by substantial power imbalances, more so than elsewhere in the prison. They also hold some of the most difficult, vulnerable and marginalised individuals in our prison system. Accordingly, the segregation unit is a place where legal safeguards should be robust and able to uphold human rights standards. However, I suggest that the laws and rules are not always robust, and do not always give effect to important ‘rule of law’ principles. I argue that whilst there are opportunities for law and policy reform, alone, they will not be sufficient for changing or improving the practices, standards and culture of the segregation unit. For example, law and policy change may not mitigate the chaotic, violent and turbulent wings; the high rates of mental illness; lack of opportunities for progression; and capacity issues found elsewhere in the prison estate. Many of the problems of segregation originate elsewhere: not just in the wider prison, but also in the social, political and economic environment in which prisons function. Thus, law reform directed solely at the segregation unit may not address the broader issues which necessitate the use of segregation. Instead, segregation reform should be considered as part of broader prison reform efforts, ones which cultivate respect, dignity, faith and compassion. Importantly, until there is greater acceptance that segregation is innately harmful and dehumanising, the law may be of limited consequence: the law cannot be expected to ‘remedy injustices legally before they are recognised as injustices socially’ (Hudson, 2006, p. 30).
Chapter
Full-text available
For nearly two centuries the practice of solitary confinement has been a recurring feature in many prison systems all over the world. Solitary confinement is used for a panoply of different reasons although research tells us that these practices have widespread negative health effects. Besides the death penalty, it is arguably the most punitive and dangerous intervention available to state authorities in democratic nations. These facts have spawned a growing international interest in this topic and reform movements which include, among others, doctors, psychologists, criminologists, sociologists, prisoners, families, litigators, human rights defenders, and prison governors. This chapter sets the scene by briefly describing this context and by presenting the structure of the book and the chapters that follow.
Article
According to national and international inspectorates, considerable differences are found in the implementation of prison sentences within countries. This is not only problematic for the legal security of society and inmates, prison organizations themselves do not know exactly for what they are deemed responsible. Although key goals of imprisonment may be clear, complex ambiguities seem to be at work. We scrutinize the specific situation of the Dutch prison system to show how implementation differences can arise within a seemingly detailed regulatory framework. Furthermore, some international comparisons are provided as well as some directions to solve the ambiguities.
Article
This study assesses whether capital inmates exposed to short-term solitary confinement (SC) continue to engage in physical violence and misconduct while incarcerated post-exposure. Using archival longitudinal data collected by a large prison system in Texas, the current study intends to reveal patterns behind prisoner misconduct examining complete disciplinary records for all capital inmates (N = 1,236). According to the results, age, gender, race, gang affiliations and priors are associated with prisoner misconduct. On average, capital inmates exposed to solitary confinement are more likely to manifest continuity in misconduct during their stay in prison.
Chapter
This chapter explores how Jewish values may help change ideas and attitudes on solitary confinement and encourage prison reform. Challenging the increasing use of solitary confinement in prison in the USA and elsewhere, this chapter explores the social aspect that underpins the commission of criminal acts. Drawing on Jewish ethical teachings, Biblical stories, and Halachic civil law, an innovative conception of crime as resulting from a person’s dislocation and detachment from society is presented, and on this basis a call is made to consider ways of responding to crime that do more to resocialize offenders and to reduce the use of measures that reinforce social isolation.
Book
Full-text available
"Moralske hospitaler" er både historien om det moderne fængselsvæsnes internationale gennembrud og en beskrivelse af den danske fængselshistorie fra 1600-tallet til i dag. Med hovedvægten på nærstudier i 1800-tallet giver forfatteren et fascinerende indblik i fængslernes hverdag. Samtidig viser han hvordan en kombination af disciplin, total isolation og intens religøs prægning skulle forbedre fangerne. Det er historien om hvordan de bedste intentioner kan føre til de største menneskelige tragedier
Article
Full-text available
This article discusses the recent increase in the use of solitary-like confinement, especially the rise of so-called supermax prisons and the special mental health issues and challenges they pose. After briefly discussing the nature of these specialized and increasingly widespread units and the forces that have given rise to them, the article reviews some of the unique mental-health-related issues they present, including the large literature that exists on the negative psychological effects of isolation and the unusually high percentage of mentally ill prisoners who are confined there. It ends with a brief discussion of recent caselaw that addresses some of these mental health issues and suggests that the courts, though in some ways appropriately solicitous of the plight of mentally ill supermax prisoners, have overlooked some of the broader psychological problems these units create.
Article
The effects of solitary confinement have been debated since at least the middle of the nineteenth century when both Americans and Europeans began to question the then-widespread use of solitary confinement of convicted offenders. A sizable and impressively sophisticated literature, now largely forgotten, accumulated for more than a half century and documented significant damage to prisoners. More recently the development of supermax prisons in the United States and human rights objections to pre-trial solitary confinement in Scandinavia revived interest in the topic and controversy over the findings. The weight of the modern evidence concurs with the findings of earlier research: whether and how isolation damages people depends on duration and circumstances and is mediated by prisoners' individual characteristics; but for many prisoners, the adverse effects are substantial.
Article
Table of Contents IntroductionPractices of the KGBBackground of the Russian State PolicePresent Structure of the KGBThe SuspectThe Accumulation of EvidenceThe Arrest ProcedureThe Detention PrisonThe Regimen Within the Detention PrisonEffects of the Regimen Within the Isolation CellThe Feelings and Attitudes of the Prisoner During the Isolation RegimenOther Pressures of the Isolation RegimenThe InterrogatorInterrogationPressures Applied by the InterrogatorThe "Friendly Approach"The Course of the InterrogationThe Psychological Interaction Between Prisoner and InterrogatorThe Reaction of the Prisoner to the InterrogationThe "Trial"Public ConfessionsPunishmentPractices in Communist ChinaA Comparison of Chinese Methods with Those of the KGBBackground and Organization of the Chinese State PoliceThe SuspectsInvestigation and ArrestChinese Prison RoutineThe InterrogatorThe Interrogation ProcedureThe Indoctrination Procedure in the Group CellThe Reaction of the Prisoner to the Procedure in the Cell
Article
Weaving together the threads of correctional history, penal philosophy, landmark court decisions, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and legislative change, Justice behind the Walls describes the reality of reform against the backdrop of the author's years of observing disciplinary hearings and segregation review boards in federal penitentiaries and draws on hundreds of hours of interviews with prisoners, wardens and correctional staff. Conceived as both a personal and public journey in search of justice, this book is an unprecedented endeavor to chart the DNA of contemporary imprisonment.At a time when the issue of human rights in prison, never high on the horizon of public concern, is dangerously close to being eclipsed by rising fear about public safety, Justice behind the Walls takes us beyond the stereotypes of the keeper and the kept. In doing so, it holds up a mirror that reflects how far we have come in recognized and respecting human rights in places where those rights are most vulnerable. This book brings to the agenda of public and legal debate a remedial toolbox that has the potential to enhance Canada's claim as an international model for a just society. Written in a language that appeals to our common humanity, it brings many lifetimes of experience to the struggle for justice.Justice behind the Walls was shortlisted for the 2002 Donner Prize for the best book on Canadian Public Policy. The Donner Prize Jury described Justice behind the Walls as "passionate, detailed and written by a highly knowledgeable and committed expert…both mind-enriching and soul-expanding." The full text is available on Justice Behind the Walls website.
To review the literature on mental health and psychiatric morbidity in prison populations and relate findings to a Danish study on remand prisoners. The literature is reviewed and subdivided in the following section: validity of psychometrics in prison populations, prevalence of psychiatric disorders prior to imprisonment, incidence of psychiatric disorders during imprisonment, psychopathy related to psychiatric comorbidity, dependence syndromes with special emphasis on different administrations of heroin use (smoke vs. injection). The results are compared with a longitudinal Danish study on remand prisoners in either solitary confinement (SC) or non-SC. Many factors must be taken into consideration when dealing with prisoners and mental health, e.g. international differences, the prison setting, demographics and methodological issues. The prison populations in general are increasing worldwide. Psychometrics may perform differently in prison populations compared with general populations with the General Health Questionnaire-28 having a low validity in remand prisoners. Psychiatric morbidity including schizophrenia is higher and perhaps increasing in prison populations compared with general populations with dependence syndromes being the most frequent disorders. The early phase of imprisonment is a vulnerable period with a moderately high incidence of adjustment disorders and twice the incidence in SC compared with non-SC. Prevalence of psychopathy is lower in European than North American prisons. Medium to high scores of psychopathy is related to higher psychiatric comorbidity. Opioid dependence is the most frequent drug disorder with subjects using injection representing a more dysfunctional group than subjects using smoke administration. Many mentally ill prisoners remain undetected and undertreated. There is a growing population of mentally ill prisoners being insufficiently detected and treated.
Michael Ignatieff (1978) A Just Measure of Pain, Macmillan 1978, Mark Colvin (1997) Penitentiaries, Reformatories, and Chain Gangs. Social Theory and the History of Punishment in Nineteenth-Century America
  • See For Example Michel
  • Foucault
See for example Michel Foucault (1995) Discipline & Punish, Vintage Books 1995, Michael Ignatieff (1978) A Just Measure of Pain, Macmillan 1978, Mark Colvin (1997) Penitentiaries, Reformatories, and Chain Gangs. Social Theory and the History of Punishment in Nineteenth-Century America, New York: St. Martin's Press 1997, and Peter Scharff Smith (2004) 'A Religious Technology of the Self. Rationality and Religion in the Rise of the Modern Penitentiary' in Punishment and Society no. 2, 2004 (B).