Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

A sourcebook on solitary confinement

By Sharon Shalev


"As this sourcebook clearly demonstrates, solitary confinement has a well documented negative impact on mental health and wellbeing and may amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, particularly when used for a prolonged time. The use of solitary confinement should therefore be strictly limited to exceptional cases or where it is absolutely necessary for criminal investigation purposes. The severe suffering caused by solitary confinement means that in all cases it should only be used as a last resort, and then for the shortest possible period of time. When used for interrogation purposes, either in combination with other methods or on its own, solitary confinement can amount not only to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment but even to torture. This comprehensive sourcebook brings together the accumulated knowledge and standards relating to solitary confinement and its harmful consequences. It identifies how solitary confinement may be misused and the protections that should be put in place. It is a valuable resource for prison staff and policy makers in the effort to promote the respect and protection of the rights and wellbeing of prisoners and detainees. Let us not forget that persons deprived of liberty are among the most vulnerable human beings in every society." - Manfred Nowak, Preface

Topics: HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Publisher: Mannheim Centre for Criminology, London School of Economics and Political Science
Year: 2008
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online

Suggested articles


  1. (1913). The History of the Prison Psychosis. Nervous and Mental Disease Monograph Series,
  2. (2005). Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights doi
  3. (2002). Physicians for Human Rights and the School of Public Health and Primary Health Care University of Cape Town
  4. (2003). Training Manual no. 1: Human Rights and Vulnerable
  5. (2005). Troubled Inside: Responding the Mental Health Needs of Men in Prison, Prison Reform Trust,
  6. (2005). Psychiatric problems of detainees under the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act doi
  7. (1998). Royal College of Psychiatrists doi
  8. (2004). A Religious Technology of the Self: rationality and religion in the rise of the modern penitentiary. Punishment and Society, doi
  9. (2006). The Effects of Solitary Confinement on Prison Inmates. A Brief History and Review of the Literatureā€ Crime and doi
  10. (1998). Impact of solitary confinement on hospitalisation among Danish prisoners in custody. doi
  11. (1984). Hostage Hallucinations: Visual Imagery Induced by Isolation and Life-Threatening Stress. doi
  12. (1959). Perceptual isolation using a silent room. doi
  13. (1975). eds. Sensory Deprivation.
  14. (1975). Using Social Isolation to Change the Behaviour of Disruptive Inmates. doi
  15. (1958). The Society of Captives: A Study of Maximum Security Prison. doi
  16. (2001). Rights Committee doi
  17. (1999). Rights Committee, Concluding Remarks on Denmark. 31/10/2000. CCPR/CO/70/DNK UN Special Rapporteur on the question of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment Report
  18. (1962). The effects of solitary confinement on prisoners.
  19. (2007). World Health Organisation (WHO) Health in Prisons: a WHO Guide to the essentials in prison health.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.