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Solitary confinement is cruel—but soon it will at least be more unusual

Article reporting a settlement reached in New York to limit the use and duration of solitary confinement.

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AMERICA imprisons 2.2m people—more than any other country in both real and relative terms. About 4.4% of those prisoners, on any given day, are serving time while virtually bereft of human contact. The conditions in solitary confinement are grim: prisoners sit alone in 6-by-10 ft windowless cells for all but an hour or so a day, eating meals that are, themselves, punitive. In many prisons, inmates are served a post-apocalyptic meal called Nutraloaf but known more popularly as “the brick” or “the loaf”—a dry, flavourless, 1100-calorie product that makes people gag. But mealtime may be the highlight of one’s day in solitary. A chorus of critics say that time in a “special housing unit” (or “SHU”) brings severe mental and emotional harm to prisoners without making prisons any safer for inmates or staff. Read more...