PLEASE SIGN: In the USA over 80,000 people at any time are in solitary confinement. To put that into perspective, that is 22-24 hours a day confined to a cell that is 12.3 by 7.5 feet. This practice violates a raft of international laws and standards.
The USA must open up these super-maximum security prisons for UN scrutiny. http://bit.ly/1tAO2IS
In the USA, over 80,000 people on any one day are held in isolation, with 25,000 held long-term in super-maximum security prisons. That’s 22-24 hours a day confined to a cell for months, years or decades in conditions of severe social and physical isolation. Individuals in solitary confinement are deprived of all but the minimal amount of human contact, both within the prison and with those outside it. The harsh conditions are psychologically devastating; to understand the brutal consequences of isolation you need to look no further than the statistic that half of all successful suicides in US prisons occur in solitary cells.
There is little external oversight into super-maximum security prisons. In the course of Amnesty International’s research into our latest report on isolation, our repeated requests to visit Florence Administrative Maximum (ADX) facility and the Metropolitan Correctional Centre (MCC) where prisoners are held in pre-trial isolation were turned down. Super-maximum security facilities should not be insulated from access by human rights groups and experts. External scrutiny is particularly important where prisoners are isolated within an already closed prison environment and where there is little publicly available information on the facilities.
In a speech to the UN in September, President Obama stated that the US welcomes international scrutiny. Let us test this resolve and call on the Secretary of State to extend an invite to the UN Special Rapporteur (SR) on Torture to visit super-maximum security prisons – including ADX and MCC. Such a visit by the SR would provide an authoritative assessment for the UN on the USA’s obligations under international law in regard to the prohibition on torture and on other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.
Secretary of State, John Kerry,
The US uses solitary confinement to an extent unequalled in any other democratic country. Over 80,000 people on any one day are held in isolation, with 25,000 held long-term in super-maximum security prisons. This practice violates a raft of international laws and standards, including the rights enshrined in the Convention against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.
As a first and necessary step to curbing the US’s use of solitary confinement, we urge you to extend an invite to the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, to carry out a fact-finding visit to US super-maximum security prisons. The visit should include both state and federal facilities – including those where individuals are held in pre-trial isolation – under the terms requested by his office.
President Obama recently stated at the UN that the US welcomes international scrutiny. Let this be a litmus test for the US Government’s commitment to such enquiry on an issue where the US stands virtually alone.