Id. 207. Conor Friedersdorf, Solitary Confinement: ‘One of the Most Barbaric, Inhumane Aspects of Our Society , ’ A TLANTIC (July 2, 2015), - confinement-one-of-the-most-barbaric-inhumane-aspects-of-our-society/397634/. 208. B RYAN S TEVENSON , J UST M ERCY 151–53 (2014). 209. Id. 210. Id. at 153. In describing the conditions of solitary in Ian’s prison in Florida, Stevenson states: Solitary confinement at Apalachee means living in a concrete box the size of a walk-in closet. You get your meals through a slot, you do not see other inmates, and you never touch or get near another human being. If you “act out” by saying something insubordinate or refusing to comply with an order . . . you are forced to sleep on the concrete floor of your cell without a mattress. If you shout or scream, your time in solitary is extended; if you hurt yourself by refusing to eat or mutilating your body, your time in solitary is extended; if you complain to officers or say anything menacing or inappropriate, your time in solitary is extended. You get three showers a week and are allowed forty-five minutes in a small caged area for exercise a few times a week. Otherwise you are alone, hidden away in your concrete box, week after week, month after month . Id. at 152 (emphasis added).
10 C ALAMBOKIDIS 1117-1156 (D O N OT D ELETE ) 4/21/2017 12:21 PM 2017] Solitary Confinement and Dignitary Interests 1151 In Davis v. Ayala , Justice Kennedy noted in his concurrence that if the petitioner’s confinement in segregation followed the “usual pattern,” it was likely he had been held for all or most of the past 20 years or more in a windowless cell no larger than a typical parking spot for 23 hours a day; and in the one hour when he le[ft] it, he likely [wa]s allowed little or no opportunity for conversation or interaction with anyone. 211 This description is telling—solitary confinement not only “socially isolates prisoners” but also “deprives them of environmental stimuli.” 212 Such conditions are inhumane for several reasons. First, “the distinctive patterns of psychological harm that can and do occur when persons are placed in isolation” are well documented. 213 Researchers and practitioners have acknowledged that “meaningful social interactions and social connectedness can have a positive effect on people’s physical and mental health and, conversely, that social isolation in general is potentially very harmful and can undermine their health and psychological well-being.” 214 In particular, experts have opined that the conditions of solitary confinement “predictably can impair the psychological functioning of . . . prisoners” and that these impairments may be “permanent and life-threatening.” 215 Indeed, there is no shortage of evidence proving such conditions cause serious psychological harm.
- Fall '19
- Supreme Court of the United States