30 years of solitary confinement: what has changed, and what still needs to happen


  • Sharon Shalev SolitaryConfinement.org




solitary confinement, torture, human rights, Nelson Mandela Rules, Medical ethics, history of torture, torture journal


Solitary confinement cells are where those considered to be too dangerous to themselves or to others, too troublesome, too mentally unwell, or simply different, will be locked away, spending 22-24 hours a day alone, out of sight and out of mind.

Solitary confinement is an extreme and harmful practice on the cusp of prohibited treatment of people deprived of their liberty, with potentially grave consequences for the individuals concerned and the societies to which they eventually return.     

This article reflects on some of the achievements, and remaining challenges, around the use and regulation of solitary confinement practices internationally in the last 30 years, drawing on recent developments and the author’s work in the area.


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Cases cited

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How to Cite

Shalev, S. (2022). 30 years of solitary confinement: what has changed, and what still needs to happen. Torture Journal, 32(1-2), 148–162. https://doi.org/10.7146/torture.v32i1-2.131384