About 30,000 inmates in California are on hunger strike this week protesting the state's solitary confinement policies and prison overcrowding.
California holds some 4,500 inmates in solitary confinement and the psychological and emotional effects of years in solitary can be devastating. Some researchers liken its effects to those of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Today we have two views on whether long spells of solitary confinement has a place in a 21st century penal system.
Brian Nelson spent 23 years in a 12 by 9 foot solitary confinement cell in Illinois before his release three years ago. He shares his memories of prison life and reflects on the difficulties of reentry.
Donn Rowe is the president of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association and an active corrections officer.
He says solitary confinement is a necessary tool for corrections officers and that prisoners are put into solitary confinement for a reason: They are dangerous to their fellow prisoners and the staff.
Nelson and Rowe join The Takeaway to make the case for and against solitary confinement.