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Key Issue

Solitary confinement

At any given time, there are more than 80,000 people in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. Even more are held in isolation in immigration detention centers and juvenile facilities. 

Long-term isolation has no rehabilitative benefit, but its destructive psychological effects are well-documented—amounting to torture under international law. Solitary confinement violates the U.N. Convention Against Torture, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the U.N. International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

AFSC works to end the practice of solitary confinement in prisons, jails, and detention centers across the country. 

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What is solitary confinement?


One of AFSC's most requested resources, this information can help advocates and activists make a compelling case for why solitary confinement is cruel and inhumane. 

Effects of solitary confinement

Prison fence lined with barbed wire and a watch tower

Submitted to the U.N. Committee Against Torture in 2014, "Survivors Speak" is a collection of testimonies of prisoners subjected to cruel treatment or who have witnessed abuses committed against others while held in U.S. custody.

Politics of solitary confinement

fence outside a Michigan prison

Written by AFSC's Bonnie Kerness and Jamie Bissonette Lewey for the Atlantic Journal of Communication, this 2014 article traces the development of isolation in the U.S. and its strategic use against poor and oppressed people of color and individuals who are seen as political threats.

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