Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Solitary Confinement: Punished for Life

Solitary Confinement: Punished for Life

Goode, Erica, “Solitary Confinement: Punished for Life,” New York Times, August 3, 2015, p. D1.


This article in the New York Times focuses on the psychological effects of long-term solitary confinement. It examines the research of Dr. Craig Haney, a social psychologist who, in 1993, interviewed a group of inmates in segregation at Pelican Bay State Prison in California, and returned to Pelican Bay twenty years later for additional interviews, some of them with prisoners he had met there in 1993.

“The interviews, conducted over the last two years as part of a lawsuit over prolonged solitary confinement at Pelican Bay, have not yet been written up as a formal study or reviewed by other researchers. But Dr. Haney’s work provides a vivid portrait of men so severely isolated that, to use Dr. Haney’s term, they have undergone a ‘social death.’”


Click here to read the article.


Keywords: indefinite solitary confinement, indefinite segregation, long-term segregation, long-term solitary confinement, prolonged solitary confinement, prolonged segregation, mental health, mental illness, mental health effects, Pelican Bay, SHU, supermax, super-max