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Sierra Smith

Mr. Norris

Solitary confinement is an unacceptable solution to punishing inmates

July 25, 2017

Imagine yourself being restricted in isolation, cramped in a cold 80 feet square Commented [kn1]: punctuation

room, surrounded by dirty white walls, darkness and sleeping on a torn mattress for

months or years. You are locked up with your own mind and that can be very scary and

damaging. I negate to separating inmates from the rest of the prison population. It may

not serve as a deterrent to bad behavior, or protect prisoners and guards. And it doesn't

prepare inmates for life outside of prison.

Research indicates that solitary confinement can cause long-term psychological Commented [kn2]: This doesnt match your first
controlling idea-deterrent to bad behavior.
trauma and brain damage even among mentally healthy prisoners. Staying in solitary

even for more than a few hours can push adolescents toward depression, suicide or

violence, experts say.

Nationally, it has been estimated that on average, a year in solitary costs taxpayers

$75,000. The average for general population prisoners was about $25,000 annually. Commented [kn3]: You need to cite this information

Inmates already suffering from various mental illnesses are often put in solitary

confinement because a prison or local jail lacks any other means to deal with the

problem. In many cases, the inmate not only suffers during isolation but also emerges in Commented [kn4]: punctuation

an even worse condition. Isolation cannot become a permanent condition.

Solitary confinement can actually fit the definition of torture, as stated in some

international human rights treaties. This means that it constitutes a violation to human Commented [kn5]: This doesnt match your third
controlling idea-
rights. Solitary confinement used as abuse. Prisoners can be placed in isolation for many

reasons, from serious infractions, such as fighting with another inmate, to minor ones,

like talking back to a guard or getting caught with a pack of cigarettes. Other times,

prisoners are thrown into solitary confinement for not breaking any rules at all. Prisons

have used solitary confinement as a tool to manage gangs, isolating people for simply

talking to a suspected gang member. The guard doesnt want to deal with them, so they Commented [kn6]: punctuation

just toss them in the small room, isolating them from the rest of the population. Solitary

confinement provides no real purpose of rehabilitation.

The primary purpose of incarceration systems is offering prisoners the chance to

rehabilitate themselves and transform into something better than they thought they could

be. This purpose is often forgotten with solitary confinement, where the goal is often to

just let time pass by as quickly as possible. Rehabilitation requires human interaction, and

isolation is best for administrative segregation or short-term protective custody. Anything

beyond that would be punitive and cruel.

Solitary confinement also creates the loss of freedom. If someone were being

isolated in a cell, he would be stripped of the feeling of having control over his

surroundings, which can result in increased anxiety, paranoia and claustrophobia. In fact,

most prisoners who were put under such a punishment have tried to gain control over

their surroundings by resorting to a self-destructive behavior.

Although solitary can be justified and beneficial by somehow satisfy the interests

of the victims and members of the public to see wrongdoers punished. Solitary

confinement can provide some kind of justification to increase a punishment in some

situations, other things being equal, but the extent victims and the public are being
satisfied has been put in question. The interest of society members to see offenders being

punished might provide a rationale for solitary confinement, at least when an existing

penalty is clearly regarded as too weak. But the sufficiency of this interest is still

doubtful, considering the serious harms solitary confinement would bring, so it should be

coupled with other benefits.

Solitary confinement is not only cruel; it is counterproductive. The United States

should reclaim the wisdom it once held and dramatically limit the practice. There must be

limits, and opportunities to move prisoners out of solitary confinement into dedicated

mental health treatment, or into the general population with rehabilitative programming.

In Maine, Colorado and Washington, prison official have experimented with moving

prisoners from isolation units into mental health treatment units, resulting in healthier

prisoners and safer prison.


Keim, Brandon. The Horrible Psychology of Solitary Confinement. Wired, Conde

Nast, 10 July 2013, www.wired.com/2013/07/solitary-confinement-2/.

West , Cornel. Solitary Confinement Facts. American Friends Service Committee,

American Friends , 24 Feb. 2016, www.afsc.org/resource/solitary-confinement-facts.

Isdale, William. Can Solitary Confinement Be Justified? Practical Ethics, University of Oxford , 25
Mar. 2014, blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/2014/03/can-solitary-confinement-be-justified/.

The High Cost of Solitary Confinement . Solitary Watch , Fact Sheet , solitarywatch.com/wp-