At any given moment, about 15,000 men and women are living in solitary confinement in the federal prison system, housed in tiny cells not much larger than a king-sized bed.
“It is hard to describe in words what such a small space begins to look like, feel like and smell like when someone is required to live virtually their entire life in it,” says Craig Haney, a psychologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
But Tuesday, Haney, who has studied life inside prisons for three decades, had an opportunity to paint that picture (see UCSC feature).
Haney and other advocates had gathered in Washington to testify about solitary confinement to members of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on civil and human-rights issues. Committee members say they want to explore the costs of long-term isolation in U.S. prisons.