Can International Laws and Standards Help Curb Solitary Confinement in the United States?

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The United States prides itself in being a leader in the international community. But when it comes to some human rights issues—including the use of solitary confinement—the U.S. lags far behind most other nations. Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, many new declarations, treaties, and standards have been produced […]

UN Human Rights Experts (Again) Push for Access to U.S. Prisons, Call for Solitary Confinement Reform

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez, has repeatedly asked permission to visit U.S. prisons to report on solitary confinement and other prison conditions.

The United Nations’ top experts on the human rights of people in detention are calling on the United States to open the doors of its prisons to an official visit. Juan E. Méndez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, and Seong-Phil Hong, the Chairperson of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, made the request after President […]

UN’s “Mandela Rules” to Set New International Standards for Treatment of Prisoners, Including Limits on Solitary Confinement

The UN's new standards for the treatment of prisoners are named for Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years behind bars.

The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMRs) are being given several long-awaited revisions this year. Among them is a provision that solitary confinement “shall be used only in exceptional cases as a last resort for as short a time as possible and subject to independent review.” The rules also prohibit […]

UN Committee on Torture Says U.S. Must Reform Its Use of Solitary Confinement

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On November 28, the United Nations Committee Against Torture released a 15 page report reviewing the United States’ compliance with the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). The report cites the excessive use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and jails as a violation of CAT, and […]

U.S. Government Tells UN Committee on Torture: “There Is No Systematic Use of Solitary Confinement in the United States”

Representatives of "civil society" have been asked to comment on a report stating that the U.S. does not torture.

Today, dozens of advocates will travel from around the country to Washington, DC, to take part in what are called “Civil Society Consultations” with representatives of the U.S. government on the subject of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). As a signatory of CAT, the […]

UN Investigator Says Long-Term Solitary Confinement in New York State Prisons Is Torture

A New York State SHU cell.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Méndez has concluded that the state of New York violated the rights of three incarcerated men “to be free from torture” by locking them up them in long-term solitary confinement.  The findings, which were submitted to the UN Human Rights Council last month, were published alongside similar “observations” […]

UN: Solitary Confinement in the U.S. Can Be Torture, Force-Feeding Unacceptable

United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Torture: Solitary Confinement in the United States Can Be Torture

The use of solitary confinement in California prisons can amount to “cruel punishment, even torture.” This is according to a recent news release from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in which UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan Méndez addresses the issue of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and specifically those in California. The statement […]

Seven Days in Solitary [6/23/13]

Pictured: Solitary confinement cell

The following roundup features noteworthy news, reports and opinions on solitary confinement from the past week that have not been covered in other Solitary Watch posts. •  According to the tally kept by The Miami Herald, 104 of the 166 men held captive at Guantanamo are now on hunger strike, with 44 being force-fed and one hospitalized. The New York Times reports that […]

Seven Days in Solitary [4.12.13]

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The following roundup features noteworthy news, reports, and opinions on solitary confinement from the past week that have not been covered in other Solitary Watch posts. • Developments surrounding the systemic failures in California prisons were covered heavily by the media. Most recently, the Los Angeles Times reported on California judges’ threat to find Gov. Jerry Brown […]

At U.N. Prisoners’ Rights Meeting, U.S. Resists Limits on Solitary Confinement

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David Fathi, who directs the ACLU’s National Prison Project and its Stop Solitary initiative, has been reporting from the U.N. Intergovernmental Expert Group Meeting on revising the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMR), held last week in Buenos Aires. Fathi reported that the United States delegation proposed some “concrete and positive changes to the SMR”–but […]