The old isolation wing at Oslo Prison, Norway.

Photo credit: Knut-Eric Ronningen

Solitary confinement 

With the exception of the death penalty, solitary confinement is the most extreme sanction which may be legally imposed on prisoners. 

The adverse effects of solitary confinement on the health and wellbeing of those subjected to it, particularly for prolonged periods, can be very serious.

Yet, in recent years there has been an increase in the use of strict, and often prolonged, solitary confinement in prisons and other places of detention across the world. This is a worrying development with potentially harmful consequences, not only for the individual concerned - but also for the wider communities to which they will eventually return.

This website is dedicated to examining the practice of solitary confinement in its various forms. It is designed to accompany the Sourcebook on Solitary Confinement and expand on issues discussed therein.

The site is managed and maintained by Sharon Shalev.



        A comprehensive single point of reference on solitary confinement examining its documented health effects, and professional, ethical and   human rights guidelines and codes of practice relating to its use.


"Deep Custody" reports the findings of a comprehensive study of prison segregation units and close supervision centres in England and Wales. 

Thinking Outside the Box? reviews the use of seclusion (solitary confinement) and restraints across prisons, health and disability facilities, children and young people's residences and police custody suites in New Zealand.


The "Nelson Mandela Rules" are a revision of the 1955 United Nations Standard Minimum Rules on the Treatment of Prisoners (SMR), adopted by the UN on 22 May 2015.



Award winning book examining the

history, use and consequences of supermax prisons in the United States. 


A statement on the use and effects of solitary confinement adopted by an international group of experts in Istanbul in December 2007.

Copyright Sharon Shalev 2020