Posted inNonfiction, Quotes

The Unlikely Roots of Solitary Confinement

In a perverse tribute to human endeavor, solitary confinement began as a reform. Thinkers in Britain, the Netherlands, and the United States in the late 18th and early 19th centuries imagined that it might be possible to induce criminals to change from within, especially if they could be kept isolated from one another and from the corruptions of the outside world. The philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s famous design for a Panopticon—a circular prison with a central “inspection house” that allowed authorities to look into any cell at any time—was predicated on the idea that the prisoner under constant surveillance would internalize authority’s gaze, and cease misbehaving.

Posted inUncategorized

The writer, a former American prisoner in Iran, goes inside America’s prisons and examines the solitary confinement system. He discovers “a recipe for abuse and violation rights”: The cell I am standing in is one of eight in a ‘pod,’ a large concrete room with cells along one side and only one exit, which leads […]