Effects of Solitary Confinement

Solitary confinement is one of the most damaging aspects of the entire criminal justice system. The practice of locking people in a cell all by themselves robs those individuals of precious social interaction. It can make difficult prison stays into unbearable ones. Despite the potential risks, Isola is still legal in the vast majority of American prisons. Individuals can only win redress for this extreme form of imprisonment in the occasional exceptional circumstance.

How is confinement used?

There are a number of reasons why the severe form of imprisonment known as isolated housing or solitary is used in the prison system. The technique is sometimes used for individuals who may be at risk from other inmates. More frequently, it is used as a punishment. Prisoners have a strict set of rules that they are forced to follow by wardens and guards. Breaking those rules for minor infractions often leads them to lose privileges. The most serious rules violations can lead to solitary. In solitary or isolated housing, individuals are often confined to their cell for long stretches of time and have only one hour per day when they are released and can exercise.

Effects on Prisoners

Inmates in solitary confinement face a wide range of problems. Many prisoners report a number of psychological symptoms both during and after long periods of isolation. They report increased feelings of anger, loneliness, and a greater risk of psychological harm. A lack of human contact also can cause inmates in solitary confinement to have hallucinations. These hallucinations do not always quickly end once an individual is released back into the general population. Effects on prisoners include much higher recidivism rates than those who do not receive this punishment. This factor is why, in most countries, isolation is no longer an acceptable way to punish a prisoner.

What to do

Inmates in solitary confinement are in the prison system for one reason or another. Therefore, they will have gone through the same process as nearly any other prisoner. Individuals start by being arrested and going through the bail bonds process. They are booked and bail is set for them to be released from jail pending trial. Many individuals go to a bail bondsman to secure an early release. Then, they go through the criminal justice system and, if convicted, they are often sent to prison. It is in prison when many people will be stuck in a situation where they may face the risk of psychological harm from extreme isolation. Any individual who is sentenced to extreme isolation should track what happens and compare their punishment with the nature of their transgression. In many instances, imposing extreme isolation is perfectly legal. The nation’s laws have not been updated to ban or curb this barbaric practice. But an individual can occasionally win redress when they can show that they have been unfairly treated outside of the law.

This scenario may occur if an individual is being punished due to their status in a protected class. They may also win redress if they got in trouble for reporting on an illegal action taken by a guard. In those instances, individuals need to collect as much evidence as they can and talk to as many witnesses as possible. Evidence will help increase the chances that their appeal is anywhere near successful.


Solitary confinement can be a long and debilitating process. Any individual who goes through it needs to be aware of their situation and their surroundings. There are a small number of instances where an individual can win redress for the imposition of isolation. In order to receive leniency and even compensation, it is up to a prisoner to be aware of their surroundings and note the details they will need to later make their case.