Because researchers have found that the clinical effects of prolonged solitary confinement are similar to those of physical torture. Additionally, it meets the definition of torture as stated in several human rights treaties for which the United States is a signatory. For example, the U.N. Convention Against Torture defines torture as any state-sanctioned act “by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person” for information, punishment, intimidation, or for a reason based on discrimination. For these reasons the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has called for a global ban on solitary confinement in excess of 15 days.
With the growing awareness of the toll on so many peoples’ mental health and the pain and anguish these people are going through, organizations on the front lines are speaking up and calling this torture a human rights abuse of gargantuan magnitude.