Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Seeing into Solitary

A Review of the Laws and Policies of Certain Nations Regarding Solitary Confinement of Detainees

Seeing into Solitary

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, Cyrus R. Vance Center For International Justice, and Anti-Torture Initiative, Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law. Seeing into Solitary: A Review of the Laws and Policies of Certain Nations Regarding Solitary Confinement Detainees (United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture: October 2016).


This report, commissioned by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, focuses on the global use of solitary confinement. After hearing back from respondent countries in a questionnaire inquiring about “the existence and purpose of solitary confinement; the authorization of solitary confinement; challenges and appeals concerning the use of solitary confinement; limits of solitary confinement; accommodation, access and physical restraints; and efforts to revise laws or regulations on solitary confinement,” all of the information was analyzed for similarities and differences, which are explained in this report. Additionally, respondent States attached either legislation itself or summaries of legislation surrounding the practice of solitary confinement, which aided in the analytical process. 

“The States with respect to which we received Questionnaires were as follows: Argentina, Austria, Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, England and Wales, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, Japan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, Uganda, the United State of America, Uruguay, and Venezuela. With respect to the United States, we received two Questionnaires pertaining to the federal level of regulation, one regarding federal prisons and another regarding the federal immigration system, plus Questionnaires from the following eight states: California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas.”


Click here to read the report.


Keywords: restricted housing, restrictive housing, supermax, super max, segregation, segregated housing, mental illness, mental health, vulnerable populations, LGBTQ, pregnant, juvenile, youth, torture, prison, jail, international use of segregation, United Nations, U.N., UN