Problems With Solitary Confinement 

Solitary confinement: while proponents claim it is the only way to control the most violent prisoners, the fact is that in the states that have abridged the use of solitary confinement, the rates of violence have really declined. 

Life in Solitary

American prisons are confining tens of thousands of inmates to years, and sometimes decades, in solitary confinement. Oftentimes, these prisoners receive subpar services to address mental health issues that brought them to prison in the first place, so those conditions become markedly worse with their time in solitary. And what groups are disproportionately represented in solitary confinement? Not surprisingly, people of color and trans individuals.

The Cost in Humanity

Long periods of isolation and forced idleness deprive prisoners of the basic human interactions and productive tasks that are needed to sustain mental health, healthy relationships, and pro-social thinking. In solitary confinement, people have no opportunity to use or develop important life skills, such as learning how to take turns, mediate differences, deal with frustrations, and find common ground. Instead, these prisoners’ potential for growth is overshadowed by depression, panic, paranoia, self-mutilation, and a disturbing rate of suicide.  These mental conditions are often side-by-side with worsening physical conditions, including hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.

After Prison Release

When inmates who have spent lengthy stays in solitary confinement are eventually released, they are at a statistically higher risk of a life of crime and substance abuse than their peers, making them at a higher risk of rearrest. 


Here in California, the governor has vetoed attempts to limit solitary confinement. Lawmakers attempted to create the following limits on the use of solitary:

  • A limit of 15 consecutive days;
  • A maximum of 45 days in a six-month time span;
  • Limited to inmates between the ages of 26 and 60;
  • Inappropriate for individuals with disabilities.

Despite saying no to these proposed restrictions, Governor Newsom has committed to working with the Department of Corrections to come up with acceptable reforms. Meanwhile, the state lags behind other states in recognizing the dangers of solitary confinement and implementing changes that would benefit both prisoners and society at large.

Fighting for Defendants

At The Law Office of David M. Boertje, our dedicated criminal defense attorneys always fight for the best possible outcomes for our clients. We know that every person is entitled to a rigorous defense, and that is precisely what we provide. To discuss your case, schedule a confidential consultation in our Las Vegas office today.

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