Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Istanbul Statement on Solitary Confinement

The Use and Effects of Solitary Confinement

Istanbul Statement on Solitary Confinement

Ayan, Alp et al. “The Istanbul statement on the use and effects of solitary confinement,” adopted December 9, 2007, International Psychological Trauma Symposium, Istanbul, Turkey.


In 2007, a task group of 24 experts from around the world—including psychiatrists and doctors, professors, legal experts, and others—met in Istanbul and drafted this advisory statement on solitary confinement.

“The purpose of the statement: Recent years have seen an increase in the use of strict and often prolonged solitary confinement practices in prison systems in various jurisdictions across the world. This may take the form of a disproportionate disciplinary measure, or increasingly, the creation of whole prisons based upon a model of strict isolation of prisoners. While acknowledging that in exceptional cases the use of solitary confinement may be necessary, we consider this a very problematic and worrying development. We therefore consider it timely to address this issue with an expert statement on the use and effects of solitary confinement.”

“As a general principle solitary confinement should only be used in very exceptional cases, for as short a time as possible and only as a last resort.”


Click here to view the statement.


Keywords: international standards, international norms, long-term segregation, overuse of segregation, solitary confinement, supermax, super-max, human rights