2)Expert Reports in Ashker v. Brown
August 3, 2015
On March 13, 2015, CCR (Center for Constitutional Rights) and co-counsel submitted 10 reports in Ashker v. Brown, our federal class action lawsuit on behalf of prisoners held in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison who have spent a decade or more in solitary confinement. The reports were authored by experts in the fields of psychology, neuroscience, medicine, prison classification, prison security, international law, and international corrections. Together, these reports provide an unprecedented and holistic analysis of the impact of prolonged solitary confinement, and document severe physical and psychological harm among California SHU prisoners as a result of their isolation.
- Collins Expert Report.pdf
- Coyle Expert Report.pdf
- Hawkley Expert Report.pdf
- Keltner Expert Report.pdf
- Lieberman Expert Report.pdf
- Mendez Expert Report.pdf
- Redacted_Austin Expert Report.pdf
- Redacted_Haney Expert Report.pdf
- Redacted_Kupers Expert Report.pdf
- Sparkman Expert Report.pdf
According to the experts, prisoners subjected to prolonged solitary experience a form of “social death” that is not cured upon release, but rather lingers as a “post-SHU syndrome” characterized by social withdrawal, isolation, and anxiety. The profound impact of solitary is not just psychological; plaintiffs' experts also uncovered evidence that SHU prisoners experience unusually heightened levels of hypertension, placing them at risk for serious health consequences. The international and domestic experts agree that such prolonged isolation is not only unnecessary for prison security, but actually counter-productive, as well as a violation of international law.
Finally, plaintiffs’ experts demonstrate that social interaction and physical touch are basic and fundamental human needs, the deprivation of which has serious and irreversible impacts. These reports provide valuable new evidence for prisoners and advocates fighting to end solitary confinement across the country. For more more information on the case, see Ashker v. Brown.
August 3, 2015
18 October 2011 – A United Nations expert on torture today called on all countries to ban the solitary confinement of prisoners except in very exceptional circumstances and for as short a time as possible, with an absolute prohibition in the case of juveniles and people with mental disabilities.
“Segregation, isolation, separation, cellular, lockdown, Supermax, the hole, Secure Housing Unit… whatever the name, solitary confinement should be banned by States as a punishment or extortion technique,” UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez told the General Assembly’s third committee, which deals with Segregation, isolation, separation, cellular, lockdown, Supermax, the hole, Secure Housing Unit… whatever the name, solitary confinement should be banned by States as a punishment or extortion techniqueal, humanitarian and cultural affairs, saying the practice could amount to torture.
“Solitary confinement is a harsh measure which is contrary to rehabilitation, the aim of the penitentiary system,” he stressed in presenting his first interim report on the practice, calling it global in nature and subject to widespread abuse.
Indefinite and prolonged solitary confinement in excess of 15 days should also be subject to an absolute prohibition, he added, citing scientific studies that have established that some lasting mental damage is caused after a few days of social isolation.
“Considering the severe mental pain or suffering solitary confinement may cause, it can amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment when used as a punishment, during pre-trial detention, indefinitely or for a prolonged period, for persons with mental disabilities or juveniles,” he warned.
The practice should be used only in very exceptional circumstances and for as short a time as possible, he stressed. “In the exceptional circumstances in which its use is legitimate, procedural safeguards must be followed. I urge States to apply a set of guiding principles when using solitary confinement,” he said.
3)Interim report of the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (report)
In the present report, submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 65/205, the Special Rapporteur addresses issues of special concern and recent developments in the context of his mandate. The Special Rapporteur draws the attention of the General Assembly to his assessment that solitary confinement is practised in a majority of States. He finds that where the physical conditions and the prison regime of solitary confinement cause severe mental and physical pain or suffering, when used as a punishment, during pre-trial detention, indefinitely, prolonged, on juveniles or persons with mental disabilities, it can amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and even torture. In addition, the use of solitary confinement increases the risk that acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment will go undetected and unchallenged.
The report highlights a number of general principles to help to guide States to re-evaluate and minimize its use and, in certain cases, abolish the practice of solitary confinement. The practice should be used only in very exceptional circumstances, as a last resort, for as short a time as possible. He further emphasizes the need for minimum procedural safeguards, internal and external, to ensure that all persons deprived of their liberty are treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.
The purpose of the statement
Recent years have seen an increase in the use of strict and often prolonged solitary confinement
practices in prison systems in various jurisdictions across the world. This may take the form of a
disproportionate disciplinary measure, or increasingly, the creation of whole prisons based upon a
model of strict isolation of prisoners.
While acknowledging that in exceptional cases the use of solitary confinement may be necessary, we consider this a very problematic and worrying development. We therefore consider it timely to address this issue with an expert statement on the use and effects of solitary confinement.
Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966.
Considering that, in accordance with the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.
Recognizing that these rights derive from the inherent dignity of the human person.
Recognizing that, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights, as well as his economic, social and cultural rights.
Considering the obligation of States under the Charter of the United Nations to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms.
Realizing that the individual, having duties to other individuals and to the community to which he belongs, is under a responsibility to strive for the promotion and observance of the rights recognized in the present Covenant.
Even before the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (a non-legally binding document) in 1948, broad agreement existed that the rights which were to be enshrined in the Declaration were to be transformed into legally binding obligations through the negotiation of one or more treaties. The International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)was the ﬁrst treaty to be negotiated and it was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 21 December 1965 and entered into force on 4 January 1969.The International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial
The Convention in general
The Convention deﬁnes “racial discrimination” as: ‘any distinction,exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or eﬀect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms
in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other ﬁeld of public life’ (article 1). The Convention requires States parties, at all levels, to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination and to prohibit any form of racial discrimination by any persons, groups or organizations (article 2), and to adopt measures to prohibit
any forms of dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination and acts of violence and incitement of such acts, and any form of assistance to such activities (article 4). States parties by signing and ratifying the Convention undertake to guarantee civil, political, economic,
social and cultural rights, without any form of racial discrimination,regarding: participation in elections; security of person; freedom of movement; nationality; freedom of thought, conscience and
religion; freedom of opinion and expression; work; housing; public health and medical care; education; and the right to equal participation in cultural activities (article 5). The Convention also assures to everyone within the State party’s jurisdiction eﬀective protection and remedies against any acts of racial discrimination,
and the right to seek just and adequate reparation for any damage suﬀered following discrimination (article 6).
London School of Economics and Political Science
Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, UK
With the support of the Nuffeld Foundation
1 Introduction 1
1.1 What is the Sourcebook about? 1
1.2 How is the Sourcebook structured? 1
1.3 Definition: what constitutes solitary confinement? 2
1.4 Brief historic context 2
1.5 Legal and regulatory framework 3
2 The health effects of solitary confinement 9
2.1 Introduction 9
2.2 The health effects of solitary confinement: a brief review of the literature and
prisoners’ accounts 10
2.3 The negative health effects of solitary confinement: reported symptoms 15
2.4 What makes solitary confinement harmful? 17
2.5 The duration of solitary confinement 21
2.6 Sequelae of isolation: the lasting effects of solitary confinement 22
2.7 Concluding remarks about the effects of solitary confinement 23
3 The decision to place prisoners and detainees in solitary confinement 25
3.1 When and why are prisoners and detainees placed in solitary confinement? 25
3.2 Placement in solitary confinement: procedural safeguards, and special provisions and
recommendations regarding the isolation of specific categories of prisoners 28
3.3 The human rights position and case law regarding the placement of prisoners in
solitary confinement 33
4 Design, physical conditions and regime in solitary confinement units 39
4.1 Introduction 39
4.2 International standards regarding prison conditions and regime 40
4.3 Research findings and recommendations regarding prison design and
environmental factors 49
4.4 Human rights case law regarding regime and physical conditions in segregation units 51
4.5 Concluding remarks on regime and conditions of confinement in segregation and
high security units 53
5 The role of health professionals in segregation units:
ethical, human rights and professional guidelines 57
5.1 Introduction: ethics as applied to prison medicine 57
5.2 Issues regarding prison medicine in solitary confinement units 58
5.3 Case law regarding the provision of medical care in prison 65
6 Monitoring and inspecting solitary confinement units 69
7 Summary of recommendations 73
Appendix 1 75
Appendix 2 78
The Istanbul statement on the use and effects of solitary confinement
Acronyms and abbreviations 83
Links & Resources 84
CATConvention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
6 February 2007
CATConvention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
6 February 2007