Solitary confinement resources

International instruments

Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners

Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary

Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers

Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials

Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment

Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)

Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT)

Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power

Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Guidelines for Action on Children in the Criminal Justice System

Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966

Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty

Principles of Medical Ethics relevant to the Role of Health Personnel, particularly Physicians, in the Protection of Prisoners and Detainees against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Principles on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions

Safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty

Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners

United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (The Riyadh Guidelines)

United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty

United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Non-custodial Measures (The Tokyo Rules)

United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (The Beijing Rules)

European bodies

Council of Europe

European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT)

European Court of Human Rights

Miscellaneous & Reports

Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons

'Hellhole' by Atul Gawande, The New Yorker, 30 March 2009

PHR report Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical evidence of torture by the US

Prison Service Journal Special Issue on Solitary Confinement

'Screams from solitary' by Lance Tapley, The Phoenix, February 2010

Solitary Watch [A great resource for news about solitary confinement and supermax prisons, with a focus on the United States. Regularly updated.]

The Real Cost of Prisons

'The Worst of the Worst: Supermax Torture in America' by Lance Tapley, The Boston Review, November-December 2010

Solitary Confinement, By Ken Strutin, published Aug 10, 2010 ["The selected materials collected here represent current research and thinking about the physical, psychological and legal implications of isolation as punishment, and the policy issues behind continuing this practice in the light of national and international standards and human rights declarations"]

New York Bar Association report on supermax prisons, September 2011 (PDF)

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture report on Solitary Confinement, submitted to the General Assembly, 5 August 2011. UN Doc Number: A 66/268 (PDF)

CPT: 21st General Report on the CPT's Activities (2010-2011) (includes sections on access to a lawyer and on solitary confinement of prisoners)

Colorado Department of Corrections Administrative Segregation and Classification Review By James Austin, Ph.D. and Emmitt Sparkman, October 2011 (PDF)

Social deprivation as torture: A bibliography of research about adult animals in social isolation. By Linn-Therese Brattli Mortensen, University of Tromsø, Norway (PDF)

Lifetime Lockdown: How Isolation Conditions Impact Prisoner Reentry. American Friends Society Report,August 2012 (PDF)

Boxed In: the true cost of extreme isolation in New York’s prisons. Report by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), 2012 (PDF)

Prison studies of solitary confinement: A bibliography of research on psychological effects of social isolation, pre-trial isolation and supermax conditions. By Are Haram Klykken, University of Tromso, Norway (PDF)November 2012

Prison photography website

Norwegian National Institution or Human Rights thematic country report on the use of solitary confinementin prisons, June 2013

National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) policy statement on solitary confinement, June 2013

Profiting Off Prisoners: a couple of excellent infographics and data on prison privatisation in the USA

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Thematic Report August 2013 (link to PDF of the report)

The City of New York Board Of Corrections: Three Adolescents with Mental Illness in Punitive Segregation on Rikers Island October 2013 (PDF)

Alone and Afraid: Children Held in Solitary Confinement and Isolation in Juvenile Detention and Correctional Facilities, ACLU Report November 2013

Scandinavian Solitary Confinement Network

Book Discussion on Spirituality in Dark Places with Prof. Derek Jeffreys (link to video-clip) 23 September 2014

Concluding observations on the third to fifth periodic reports of United States of America: CAT - Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment 53 Session (03 Nov 2014 - 28 Nov 2014) (PDF)

Vera Institute of Justice: On Life Support: Public Health in the Age of Mass Incarceration (Nov 2014)

World Health Organisations (WHO) Prisons and Health (2014) Chapter 5: solitary confinement as a prison health issue (link to PDF)

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman for England and Wales: Learning Lessons Bulletin issue 8: Segregation(June 2015) (PDF)

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (UK) (2015) Report on an unannounced thematic inspection of the Close Supervision Centre System (PDF)

Children's Commissioner for England (2015) Unlocking Potential : report into the isolation of children and young people in custody in England (link to PDF)

Medical Justice (2015) A secret punishment: the mis-use of segregation in immigration detention (PDF)

U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (2015) Use of Restrictive Housing in U.S. Prisons and Jails 2011-12

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) (2019) Still Worse Than Second-Class: Solitary Confinement of Women in the United States

Vera Institute for Justice (2018) Rethinking Restrictive Housing: Lessons from Five U.S. Jail and Prison Systems

Stop Solitary for Kids (2019) Not in Isolation: how to reduce room confinement while increasing safety in youth facilities

World Medical Association Statement on Solitary Confinement (2019)

Yale Law School, The Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law (2020) Time-In-Cell 2019: A Snapshot of Restrictive Housing Based on a Nationwide Survey of U.S. Prison Systems

(scroll down for links to earlier reports in the series)

International Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)

Amnesty International

Association for the Prevention of Torture

Avocats Sans Frontieres

Human Rights Watch

Penal Reform International

American Civil Liberties Union (we can stop solitary campaign)

Vera Institute of Justice Safe Alternatives to Segregation Resource Center

Anti Torture Initiative with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment

Professional Associations

International Council of Nurses

World Health Organisation

World Medical Association


British Medical Association

British Psychological Association

Royal College of Psychiatrists

Monitoring and prison reform bodies: England and Wales

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons

International Centre for Prison Studies

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman

Prison Reform Trust

Prisoners' Advice Service

The Howard League for Penal Reform