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21 Law & Psychol. Rev. 271 (1997)
The Eighth Amendment and Psychological Implications of Solitary Confinement

handle is hein.journals/lpsyr21 and id is 275 raw text is: THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT AND PSYCHOLOGICAL
As the turn of the century approaches, the United States
faces a growing problem with its prison system. Rising crime
rates have overcrowded the prisons. Inside their walls, gangs
control a healthy drug trade and commit atrocious acts of vio-
lence. These acts are largely symptoms of a growing belief that
retribution, not rehabilitation, should be the goal of imprison-
ment.1 The response to this problem has been less than encour-
aging. Many prison officials believe that prisoners are often
unable to be rehabilitated.' Instead, they choose to further re-
strict prisoners' freedoms through disciplinary and administra-
tive solitary confinement. Many states are building new
supermax prisons in which the harshest criminals serve their
sentences with little or no human contact in cells the size of a
bathroom.4 Instead of rehabilitating, these conditions cause
great damage to a prisoner's sanity.' The growing trend toward
isolating prisoners raises serious questions about the constitu-
tionality of such acts.6
The United States' system of solitary confinement was ex-
tremely popular in the first part of the nineteenth century. It
1. See Karen Blair, A 196 Year Push to Make Prisons Work, SCHOLASTIC UP-
DATE, Feb. 9, 1987, at 18.
2. See id.
4. Nan D. Miller, Comment, International Protection of the Rights of Prisoners:
Is Solitary Confinement in the United States a Violation of International Standards?,
26 CAL. W. INTL L.J. 139, 155 (1995).
5. See id.
6. Solitary Confinement: In a general sense, the separate confinement of a
prisoner, with only occasional access of any other person, and that only at the dis-
cretion of the jailer. In a stricter sense, the complete isolation of a prisoner from all
human society, and his confinement in a cell so arranged that he has no direct
intercourse with or sight of any human being, and no employment or instruction.
See BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY 1393 (6th ed. 1990).
7. See Stuart Grasian, Psychopathological Effects of Solitary Confinement, 140
AM. J. PSYCHIATRY 1450 (1983).

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