It's an inhumane and soul-killing practice in prisons across the nation, but next week will be the first time solitary confinement is ever addressed by Congress.

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights will hold the first-ever Congressional hearing on solitary confinement on Tuesday, June 19 at 10 a.m. Eastern. It will be webcast live at

Some things that committee will hear from the ACLU and other opponents of solitary confinement:

  • Solitary confinement is inhumane. Inmates in Montana State Prison's "Locked Housing Unit" (solitary) spend 23 hours a day in a cramped cell with no outside light and no human contact other than a tray of food pushed through a slot in the door. Five days a week, for one hour, the inmate can leave his cell to shower or spend time in an open-air metal cage. A basketball hoop is the only thing in that cage. Nothing of the outside world is visible but a small patch of sky.
  • Solitary confinement is a waste of taxpayer dollars.
  • Solitary confinement is overused. It's estimated that 25,000 prisoners across the country are locked up in isolation.
  • Solitary confinement is used in appropriately on minors and mentally ill prisoners. The ACLU of Montana recently settled a case (Katka v. Montana State Prison) concerning the incarceration of a 17-year-old boy in solitary confinement for more than year. That settlement severely limits the use of solitary on juveniles and prisoners with mental illness.

Learn more about our work to end solitary confinement and sign the statement opposing its use.