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Inside Story: The Ethics of Solitary Confinement

This weekend the New York Times reported that on any given day 300 immigrants are held in solitary confinement in American detention facilities. Nearly half are kept isolated for more than 15 days - the point at which experts say they are at risk of severe psychiatric harm. More widely, according to federal records, some 80,000 prisoners were held in solitary confinement across the US in 2005 - the last time such information was released by the government. Amongst those in solitary confinement today are juveniles as young as age 16, with one study suggesting that in 2012 14 percent of adolescents in the New York City prison system had been held in isolation at least once. So, why does the United States put more people into solitary confinement than any other country in the democratic world? To discuss the issue further, Inside Story Americas with presenter Shihab Rattansi, is joined by guests: Wilbert Rideau, who spent 44 years in prison between 1961 and 2005, and spent time in solitary confinement. he has written extensively about the criminal justice system; David Fathi, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project; and Reverend Richard Killmer, the executive director of the National Religious Campaign against Torture. We also Keren Zwick, from the National Immigration Justice Center about undocumented migrants who are held in solitary confinement.

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