A recent story in the Daily News raised concern for the mental health of a college student who was forced to isolate in a travel trailer following infection with COVID-19. Other reports also have raised the concern that social isolation causes mental distress.
Perhaps now is a good time to reassess the widespread use of solitary confinement in our prisons. Until recently, California had thousands of people in solitary confinement for up to 20 years. Albert Woodfox was held in solitary confinement at Louisiana’s Angola prison for 44 years. Currently, there are more than 100,000 prisoners held in solitary confinement in the United States. Europe has a tiny fraction in similar conditions.
The United Nations has deemed that solitary confinement for more than 15 days is torture. How can we expect prisoners released after suffering this abuse to not suffer long-term difficulties?
Many claim that we are a Christian nation. Perhaps we should reflect on the gospel of Mathew when we look at solitary confinement, “In as much as he have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me.”