United Nations Committee against Torture, Concluding observations on the third to fifth periodic reports of United States of America, U.N. Doc. CAT/C/USA/CO/3-5 (November 20, 2014).
The United States is a party to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, an international treating banning torture and ill treatment. The Committee against Torture is a United Nations body of independent experts who monitor countries’ implementation of the Convention. These states periodically report to the Committee about their application of the treaty, and after consideration, the Committee issues concluding observations and makes recommendations for improvement to the states.
The Committee issued these concluding observations on the United States’ compliance with the Convention against Torture in 2014. Among other topics, the Committee addresses the use of solitary confinement in the United States (see paragraphs 19-20 and 23).
The Committee expresses concern at the United States’ extensive and sometimes indefinite use of solitary confinement, as well as the isolation of juveniles and individuals with mental disabilities, and declares that “full isolation for 22-23 hours a day in super-maximum security prisons is unacceptable.” The United States is urged to prohibit the solitary confinement of juveniles, persons with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities, and pregnant women; to ban prison regimes such a those in super-maximum security facilities; and to compile and publish better data on the use of solitary confinement around the country.
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Keywords: indefinite segregation, indefinite solitary confinement, prolonged segregation, prolonged solitary confinement, long-term segregation, human rights, international law, international norms, international standards, mental health, mental illness, persons with disabilities, human rights