National Commission on Correctional Health Care. “Position Statement: Solitary Confinement (Isolation).” Chicago, Illinois: National Commission on Correctional Health Care Board of Directors, adopted April 10, 2016.
The National Commission on Correctional Health Care adopted this position statement on the use of solitary confinement in correctional settings in April 2016. It examines the use of solitary confinement, its effects, and positions taken regarding its use by national and international bodies such as the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the World Health Organization.
The position statement then provides 17 principles to guide correctional health care professionals in addressing the use of solitary confinement in facilities in which they work. These principles include, among others:
- Prolonged (greater than 15 consecutive days) solitary confinement is cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment, and harmful to an individual’s health.
- Juveniles, mentally ill individuals, and pregnant women should be excluded from solitary confinement of any duration.
- Correctional health professionals should not condone or participate in cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment of adults or juveniles in custody.
- Prolonged solitary confinement should be eliminated as a means of punishment.
- Solitary confinement as an administrative method of maintaining security should be used only as an exceptional measure when other, less restrictive options are not available, and then for the shortest time possible. Solitary confinement should never exceed 15 days.
- Health staff must not be involved in determining whether adults or juveniles are physically or psychologically able to be placed in isolation.
- Health care staff must advocate so that individuals are removed from solitary confinement if their medical or mental health deteriorates or if necessary services cannot be provided.
Keywords: mental health care, healthcare, prolonged solitary confinement, administrative segregation, disciplinary segregation, punitive segregation, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, torture, minimum standards, effects of segregation, human dignity, privacy and confidentiality of care