A group hoping to end the prison system's use of prolonged solitary confinement says the practice amounts to a form of torture.
Seven years ago, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture formed to try to end the government's use of torture in places like Iraq and Cuba. President Linda Gustitus
says the increasing use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons leads to more problems and is becoming a costly way for budget-strapped governments to house prisoners.
Gustitus says the practice is common here..
"...the United States is one, if not THE world leaders in the use of solitary confinement and sadly, most Americans don't realize that is the situation..."
She says prolonged solitary confinement has not been used extensively here until after 1980. The prison population numbers exploded then as there was a crackdown on drugs and the use of mandatory sentences increased.
She says prolonged isolation causes psychological problems..
"....after even 10 to 15 days an individual who might otherwise be mentally healthy can go crazy in solitary confinement. But we not only put people who are somewhat mentally sane in solitary confinement, we put the mentally ill in solitary confinement. We put juveniles in solitary confinement..."
Gustitus says the sharply growing costs are also putting a burden on the prison system.
Gustitus will speak Sunday, September 15, at the Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on Peggy's Lane in Woodruff at 10:00 a.m. The public is invited.
We'll have more with Linda Gustitus at 7:35 a.m. Monday, Sept. 9 on WXPR, 91.7 FM.