Commentary on Solitary

I see that the New Yorker article by surgeon/author/professor Atul Gawande about the morality—and legality—of solitary confinement in American prisons has picked up a lot of notice over the weekend.

For instance, Gawande was interviewed by NPR here.

And attorney Doug Berman over at Sentencing, Law and Policy wonders
why there have not been more Constitutional challenges about the Segregated Housing Units—the SHUs—in the nation’s prisons. He writes:

The article’s efforts to draw parallels in this last paragraph
to segregation and GTMO help spotlight my own belief that constitutional lawyers and policy policy groups have been complicit, at least indirectly, in the growth of solitary confinement in prison nation. A generation ago, many civil rights lawyers and policy policy groups attacked segregation through constitutional court battles. And, in modern times, many lawyers and public policy groups have be actively attacking GTMO, as well as just about every aspect of the death penalty. But, while a few hundred accused terrorists and murderers have lots and lots of constitutional lawyers and activists running to court on their behalf, many thousands of lesser criminals confined to the hellhole of supermax prisons languish with very few persons even thinking about their plight, let alone fighting in court on their behalf.

Excellent point.

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