On Demand

Recent Developments in the Law of Solitary Confinement


Created on September 01, 2016




There are hundreds of thousands of federal, state, and local prisoners currently being held in solitary confinement. Until recently, very few prisoners were able to successfully challenge such isolation, and the courts were quick to defer to prison officials' justifications of such confinement as necessary to protect prison security. In just the last year, however, we have seen major settlements in New York and California, drastically curtailing the use of solitary confinement, and strong statements against such practices by President Obama, Justice Kennedy, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. 

This course charts the changing landscape of legal and extra-legal challenges to solitary, including an in-depth analysis of the relevant constitutional arguments, the state of expert analysis, and case studies of the recent settlements in New York and California. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the current and historical use of solitary confinement in the United States, and the conditions of that confinement
  2. Grasp relevant constitutional claims
  3. Learn of recent expert evidence on the effects of solitary confinement on mental and physical health, and prison security
  4. Practical guidance for challenging solitary confinement in the federal courts 

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