Almost 50,000 people held in solitary confinement in US prisons
A report from Yale Law School that questioned U.S. prison systems found that in the summer of 2021, nearly 50,000 men and women were held in solitary confinement in the U.S.
As the Guardian reported, the number was above the minimum standards set by the United Nations, which says that this type of isolation is considered torture.
The report data was obtained through surveys which found that people in prison were being held in parking space-sized cells for an average of 22 hours per day, and for at least 15 days.
Researchers surveyed 34 state prison systems, along with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), in 2021.
According to data from the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera), by March 2021, 1,193,934 men and women were held in prisons across the United States.
The Guardian’s report highlighted the case of Albert Woodford Fox, who stood as the person that had endured the longest-standing solitary confinement in the country. He was locked into a cell for 43 years, with almost no breaks, within a six by 9-foot cell. He was released from Louisiana’s Angola prison in 2016.
Fox died at the age of 75 earlier in August.
Judith Resnik, a professor of law at Yale, said, “In the 1980s, people promoted solitary confinement as a way to deal with violence in prisons.” She said, “It is now seen as a problem itself that needs to be solved.”
In California, new legislation colloquially known as the California Mandela Act, would have prisons in the state would require strict rules and reporting and would not allow pregnant women to be put in solitary confinement.
Solitary confinement has officially been given the name restrictive housing, or is sometimes called Special Housing United (SHU) or Intensive Management Units.