The International Persistence and Resilience of Solitary Confinement

20 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2018 Last revised: 21 May 2018

See all articles by Keramet Reiter

Keramet Reiter

University of California, Irvine

Date Written: January 9, 2018

Abstract

English Abstract: Drawing on a combination of legal analysis and fieldwork conducted with prisoners and administrators in both Denmark and the United States, this article interrogates how solitary confinement has been defined and constrained – or not – in the context of U.S., European, and international law over time. Solitary confinement has been pervasive in prisons across the world, since the first prisons opened. And solitary confinement has been surprisingly predictable over its long history, producing instances of extreme and de-humanizing brutality, inspiring ongoing debates about just how psychologically detrimental the practice is, and persistently resisting critiques based on evidence of brutality and psychological damage. The pervasiveness and predictability of solitary confinement suggests substantial limitations inherent in the newest barrage of critiques leveled by courts, scholars, international human rights bodies, and professional associations against the practice. Indeed, many critiques of solitary confinement have failed because they have promoted reformist rather than non-reformist (or abolition) agendas – a distinction articulated by Mathiesen (1974/2014).

Spanish Abstract: Partiendo de una combinación de análisis de leyes y trabajo de campo, este artículo investiga cómo se ha definido y limitado -o no- el régimen de aislamiento en los códigos legales. El aislamiento carcelario ha sido una constante en todo el mundo, produciendo ejemplos de brutalidad extrema, suscitando discusiones sobre su impacto psicológico y eludiendo las críticas fundadas en pruebas. La ininterrupción y predecibilidad del aislamiento carcelario indican que hay limitaciones sustanciales en la nueva ola de críticas por parte de juzgados, académicos, organizaciones de derechos humanos y asociaciones profesionales. Lo cierto es que muchas de las críticas han errado porque han promovido la reforma en lugar de la abolición, distinción explicada por Mathiesen (1974/2014).

Keywords: Solitary confinement, human rights, incarceration, legal reform, Aislamiento carcelario, derechos humanos, encarcelamiento, reforma jurídica

Suggested Citation

Reiter, Keramet, The International Persistence and Resilience of Solitary Confinement (January 9, 2018). Oñati Socio-Legal Series, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3098835

Keramet Reiter (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine ( email )

62697-3125

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
130
rank
214,649
Abstract Views
466
PlumX Metrics