Fact Sheets

Starting in 2022, Solitary Watch is publishing a series of fact sheets offering facts, analysis, and resources on a variety of topics related to the use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, jails, and immigrant and juvenile facilities. Fact sheets are designed to be accessed online and also printed out and copied for use by educators, advocates, policymakers, and others.

Children in Solitary Confinement: Fact Sheet #7

SW Fact Sheet 7 - Children in Solitary (click to download PDF)
Download “Children in Solitary Confinement: Solitary Watch Fact Sheet #7” (2024, PDF)

As Fact Sheet # 7 states, “Solitary confinement causes serious physical, neurological, and psychological harm to adults, and has even more dire effects on children, whose minds and bodies are still growing and developing. The United Nations classifies solitary confinement as cruel and inhumane treatment that often rises to the level of torture, and has called for a complete ban on placing children in solitary. Despite this fact, thousands of kids experience isolation every day in adult jails and prisons and in juvenile facilities.”

The four-page fact sheet (available as a PDF) includes facts and figures, quotations from solitary survivors and experts, examples of alternatives to juvenile solitary, and comprehensive notes and resources.

Solitary Confinement & Prison Oversight: Fact Sheet #6

Download “Solitary Confinement & Prison Oversight: Solitary Watch Fact Sheet #6” (2023, PDF)

Fact Sheet #6 states, “To ensure the effective implementation of solitary confinement reforms, and to monitor prison conditions more generally, a small but increasing number of states have established prison oversight bodies that operate independently of corrections agencies. While independent oversight bodies vary in structure and effectiveness, and come with challenges and limitations of their own, many advocates believe that oversight will play a key role in the success of efforts to end solitary confinement.”

The four-page document (available as a PDF) also includes comprehensive notes and resources.

Solitary Confinement and The Brain: The Neurological Effects: Fact Sheet #5

Download “Solitary Confinement and The Brain: The Neurological Effects: Solitary Watch Fact Sheet #5” (2023, PDF)

Fact Sheet #5 explores existing research on the psychological effects of solitary confinement, which suggests that the practice is extremely harmful, both emotionally and cognitively. One study showed that people in solitary are seven times more likely to commit self-harm and six times more likely to commit fatal self-harm than those held in general prison populations. Individuals held in solitary for any amount of time while serving a prison sentence are also more likely to die of all causes in the first year after release, especially of suicide and homicide.

The four-page document (available as a PDF) also includes comprehensive notes and resources.

Solitary Confinement and Prison Safety: Fact Sheet #4

Download “Solitary Confinement and Prison Safety: Solitary Watch Fact Sheet #4” (2023, PDF)

Fact Sheet #4 addresses misconceptions about solitary confinement and prison violence, and provides the facts on the relationship between solitary and prison safety. As the fact sheet states, “Many studies over the last two decades have shown that solitary confinement is not an effective method of controlling incarcerated people or addressing prison violence.” It continues: “In fact, many facilities where solitary confinement has been reduced or eliminated also saw a decrease in hostility between incarcerated people and correctional officers and overall reductions in the number of violent incidents. Additionally, many facilities have reduced violence by instituting policies that reward positive behavior, enhance programming, increase the autonomy of incarcerated people, and train prison staff in alternative approaches.”

The four-page document (available as a PDF) also includes comprehensive notes and resources.

The Psychological Effects of Solitary Confinement: Fact Sheet #3

Download “The Psychological Effects of Solitary Confinement: Solitary Watch Fact Sheet #3” PDF
Download “The Psychological Effects of Solitary Confinement: Solitary Watch Fact Sheet #3” (2022, PDF)

Fact Sheet #3 covers the wide-ranging and devastating psychological effects of solitary. As the fact sheet states, “A growing body of research has found that solitary confinement not only further exacerbates the symptoms of mental illness in individuals already diagnosed with psychiatric conditions, but also creates new mental health issues in people with no previous history of mental illness.”

The four-page document (available as a PDF) also includes comprehensive notes and resources.

The Collateral Consequences of Solitary Confinement: Fact Sheet #2

Download “The Collateral Consequences of Solitary Confinement: Solitary Watch Fact Sheet #2” (2022, PDF)

Fact Sheet #2 details the far-reaching and even lethal effects of solitary confinement. As the fact sheet states, “The negative effects of solitary confinement go far beyond immediate suffering, affect people in all areas of their lives, and can last long after individuals have returned to the general prison population or the free world.” However, “little attention has been given to the specific collateral consequences of solitary confinement. These consequences include the destruction of family relationships, lasting financial hardship, exclusion from work and educational programing, additional time behind bars, increased recidivism, and even shortened life spans.”

The four-page document (available as a PDF) also includes comprehensive notes and resources.

Racism and Solitary Confinement: Fact Sheet #1

Download “Racism and Solitary Confinement: Solitary Watch Fact Sheet #1” (2022, PDF)

The first fact sheet in the new series covers how racism in the U.S. punishment system plays out in relation to the use of solitary. As the fact sheet states, “The systemic discrimination that has led to the mass incarceration of people of color has replicated itself within solitary confinement. Behind bars, people of color are more likely to be perceived as a threat by staff and more likely to face serious punishments in comparison with their white counterparts. Both factors contribute to racial disparities in the use of solitary confinement.”

The fact sheet also documents racial disparities in how mental illness is treated in the punishment system, and in responses to political activism by people of color. The four-page document (available as a PDF) also includes comprehensive notes and resources.

Previous Publications

Fact Sheet: The High Cost of Solitary Confinement (2011, PDF)
Download “Fact Sheet: The High Cost of Solitary Confinement” (2011, PDF)
Fact Sheet: Solitary Confinement and the Law (2011, PDF)
Download “Fact Sheet: Solitary Confinement and the Law” (2011, PDF)

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