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United States

The Science of Solitary Confinement 326

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Joseph Stromberg writes in Smithsonian Magazine that while the practice of solitary confinement is being discontinued in most countries, it's become increasingly routine within the American prison system. It is estimated that between 80,000 and 81,000 prisoners are in some form of solitary confinement nationwide. Once employed largely as a short-term punishment, it's now regularly used as way of disciplining prisoners indefinitely, isolating them during ongoing investigations, coercing them into cooperating with interrogations and even separating them from perceived threats within the prison population at their request.

Most prisoners in solitary confinement spend at least 23 hours per day restricted to cells of 80 square feet, not much larger than a king-size bed, devoid of stimuli (some are allowed in a yard or indoor area for an hour or less daily), and are denied physical contact on visits from friends and family ... A majority of those surveyed experienced symptoms such as dizziness, heart palpitations, chronic depression, while 41 percent reported hallucinations, and 27 percent had suicidal thoughts...

But the real problem is that solitary confinement is ineffective as a rehabilitation technique and indelibly harmful to the mental health of those detained achieving the opposite of the supposed goal of rehabilitating them for re-entry into society. Rick Raemisch, the new director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, voluntarily spent twenty hours in solitary confinement in one of his prisons and wrote an op-ed about his experience in The New York Times. 'If we can't eliminate solitary confinement, at least we can strive to greatly reduce its use,' wrote Raemisch."
Government

Diffing Guantanamo Bay SOP Manuals 563

James Hardine writes "The Washington Post is reporting that Wikileaks has released another manual for Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay together with the US military's rendition operations manual. This release follows from the Wikileaks release of the 2003 SOP Manual as discussed on Slashdot last month. Wikileaks compares the two manuals (2003, 2004) and reveals damning changes in official US detainee policy in exquisite detail. Who knew that diff could be such a powerful political weapon?"

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