Families of mentally ill American inmates were astounded to read the headline below in Solitary Watch.com: U.S. Government Tells UN Committee on Torture: “There Is No Systematic Use of Solitary Confinement in the United States”
I published the following comment at the article:
With so many super max prisons and solitary jail/prison cells in the USA, it is surprising that the USA would deny its systemic use of solitary confinement. It is estimated that roughly 80,000 inmates are in solitary confinement, some for decades. Over 60 percent of the isolated inmates are mentally ill people who should be treated as psychiatric inpatients or outpatients, not punished for offenses that arose from their health disabilities. Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill (AIMI) plans to file an action in International Court against the USA for long-term homelessness, brutality and wrongful deaths of mentally ill Americans, especially mentally ill inmates who were denied timely psychiatric treatment to prevent offenses that led to harsh punishment. Google “AIMI vs. USA,” which will be filed in 2015. Listen to our Blogtalkradio shows on Wednesdays at 8pm Pacific Time to hear from families in mental health crises. Torturous solitary confinement and denial of visits are two of the most common complaints among family members of mentally ill inmates. [This news was discussed during our regular Wednesday radio episode of Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill at 8pm Pacific on October 15, 2015, which is archived at Blogtalkradio at
The U.S. Constitution, along with federal and state laws, establishes standards of care to which all inmates are entitled…U.S. courts have interpreted the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution as prohibiting the use of solitary confinement under certain circumstances, especially with regard to inmates with serious mental illness or for juvenile detainees. (Specifically, under the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishments,” correctional facility administrators may not subject inmates to solitary confinement with deliberate indifference to the resulting serious harms, including suicides, suicide attempts, and serious self-injury. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 843 (1970); see also, e.g., Madrid v. Gomez, 889 F. Supp. 1146, 1265 (N.D. Cal. 1995) (using prolonged solitary confinement on prisoners with serious mental illness can be “the mental equivalent of putting an asthmatic in a place with little air to breathe”) …
People with mental, physical, and psychological disabilities are not punished with solitary confinement, the U.S. report asserts:
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act) restrict and regulate the use of solitary confinement for persons with disabilities. Title II of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. 12132, applies to state actors, while the Rehabilitation Act applies to federal correctional facilities and correctional facilities receiving funds from the federal government. Both statutes prohibit the use of solitary confinement in a manner that discriminates on the basis of disability instead of making reasonable modifications to provide persons with disabilities access to services, programs, and activities, including mental health services. See Pa. Dep’t of Corr. v. Yeskey, 524 U.S. 206, 210 (1998).
A poll that was taken showed that out of 10 of the worst prisons in the world, five of them existed within the confines of the United States of America.