Solitary confinement has been shown to have long-term detrimental effects on mental health. Prisoners are placed in a claustrophobic unit where they can spend up to 23 hours a day with no access to natural light, human interaction, or entertainment.
Solitary confinement has not been shown to deter any “bad behavior”. Although prisons are meant to rehabilitate and decrease recidivism, placing them in solitary confinement is more of a sick punishment with worsening effects.
While in solitary confinement, these people are offered no form of education or therapy. Instead of working through their crimes, talking about why they have committed it, learning healthy coping skills, they are confined to a cell which increases their mental health issues. In state prisons, 73% of women and 55% of men have at least one mental health problem (Varney, PBS News). Placing those with mental illness in solitary confinement will only worsen the illness.
Solitary confinement can cause severe depression, anxiety, PTSD, and some lose their grip on reality. These have lasting effects that can inhibit those from leading normal lives when they are released from prison. In cases of PTSD, many become comfortable with the solitary confinement since it is all they know. They don’t know how to function outside of that environment and will isolate themselves once they are released.
Solitary confinement violates several of Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs. One of the main blocks on Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs is Love/Belonging. This means that people need social connection. People need intimacy and a sense of connection. While in solitary confinement, many prisoners are denied visits and are further isolated. This makes it so that prisoners social skills are decimated. They become uncomfortable around people and lose the ability to socialize. This makes it impossible to survive on the outside and increases recidivism.
Solitary confinement, also, has physical effects due to reduced access of sunlight, fresh air, exercise, and overall mobility. There are, also, stress related illnesses such as gastrointestinal problems, heart disease, accelerated aging, premature death, etc.
The point is solitary confinement is a useless, outdated punishment that has no real use. It does nothing to rehabilitate prisoners and increases their issues, making it difficult to survive on the outside world. This increases recidivism.