National and International Events Challenging Use of Solitary Confinement

by | March 1, 2012

Following is information on two important upcoming events that examine and challenge the practice of solitary confinement, both in the United States and internationally.

The first will take place in New York on Thursday evening, and is sponsored by the Human Rights Committee of the New York City Bar Association:



March 1, 2012

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

The Association of the Bar

of the City of New York

42 West 44th Street


 Juan E. Mendez

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture

 Martin Horn

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

 Michael Mushlin

Pace University Law School

 Moderator: David Stoelting

Committee on International Human Rights

 Sponsored by the Committee on International Human Rights, Stephen L. Kass, Chair

This program will examine whether the widespread use of extended solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, affecting tens of thousands of federal prisoners, is a necessary administrative measure or whether, despite the absence of physical abuse, “supermax” detention amounts to torture or other human rights violations and, if so, what changes should be made in current U.S. practices.

This program is free to members of the bar and the public.  Advance registration is suggested, but not required, at

The second event, the first of its kind on this subject, will be held next Tuesday at the 19th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland:


Tuesday, 6 March 2012

11.00 – 13.00

Room XXIV, Palais des Nations

Every day tens of thousands of prisoners and detainees are held in solitary confinement worldwide. Usually in isolation for at least 22 hours a day and denied all meaningful human contact, these prisoners and detainees are frequently held for months, years, and sometimes decades. They are held in conditions that the Special Rapporteur on Torture has found can amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and even torture. In a global study of the practice published last year at the General Assembly and in his statement to the 19th session of the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur called on all countries to ban solitary confinement except in very exceptional circumstances and for minimal time periods. This briefing will examine the detrimental impacts of solitary confinement, the research that finds it to be a human rights violation, and the disproportionate impact of its use on mentally disabled persons and youth. The briefing will also offer concrete recommendations for future action to increase protections and effective safeguards from abusive and prolonged solitary confinement.

Prof. Juan Mendez, Special Rapporteur on Torture

The global practice of solitary confinement


Amy Fettig, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

The practice of solitary confinement in the United States

Dr. Sharon Shalev, University of Oxford & International Centre for Prison Studies (ICPS)

European practices of solitary confinement and its use during pre-trial detention

Dorottya Karsay, Mental Disability Advocacy Center (MDAC)

Persons with disabilities in solitary confinement

Justice Renate Winter, Appeals Chamber of the Special Court of Sierra Leone

Juveniles in solitary confinement

Andrea Huber, Penal Reform International (PRI)

Solitary confinement of death row inmates/ lifers and the lack of international

safeguards against solitary confinement

Moderator: Jamil Dakwar, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)


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