OUR FREE OPINION
We have railed against the practice of solitary confinement several times on these pages arguing that the practice is tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment. A recent Op-Ed contributor to the Minneapolis Star Tribune described solitary confinement in this way: “Imagine living in a room the size of your bathroom for 600 days. The lights never go off, and there are no windows. Day and night are no longer distinct. Tracing cracks in the wall’s plaster becomes the centerpiece of your imagination, and counting the floor tiles your only source of mental stimulation.”
The writer, Sara Lederman, was criticizing the Minnesota Legislature for failing to codify the conditions of how and when inmates could be subjected to such confinement. Minnesota is among the minority of states that have neglected to address the medical and ethical problems caused by these inhumane practices.
Lederman correctly points out that inmates with mental disabilities disproportionately make up the majority of those inmates forced to live in these cramped and claustrophobic conditions. Although Minnesota currently has no laws directly addressing the use of solitary confinement, legislation is pending in Minnesota to correct this openly unfair practice. We urge the legislatures to move quickly to end this archaic and backward practice.