Catholic World News

California bishops decry lengthy solitary confinement

September 13, 2013

Before California prisoners suspended a hunger strike in protest of lengthy solitary confinement, the bishops of California issued a statement noting that “international human rights standards consider more than 15 days in isolation to be torture.”

After offering to help state officials to resolve the situation, the bishops wrote:

We stand opposed to any form of unjust, inhumane treatment. While it may be that isolation mitigates gang activity, placing humans in isolation in a Secure Housing Unit (SHU) has no restorative or rehabilitative purpose. It is not a sustainable solution to legitimate security concerns. Some of the men on this hunger strike have been in isolation for up to 35 years with very minimal human contact. International human rights standards consider more than 15 days in isolation to be torture.

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  • Posted by: - Sep. 15, 2013 12:14 PM ET USA

    If a convicted criminal serving a life sentence re-offends seriously while imprisoned --- say, by aggravated assault against a guard or forcibly sodomizing another prisoner --- what happens then? I'd like to see a discussion on that. The State has the obligation to protect society from aggression; and the prison itself, with its residents and staff, is part of society, too. I'd like to see a discussion on that.