Are we torturing U.S. prisoners?

Monday, March 23, 2009

There has been recent debate over whether isolation cells in "Supermax" prisons should be classified as torture. (Flickr user ewarwoowar (cc: by-nc-sa))
The United States holds at least 25,000 prisoners in long-term solitary confinement prisons across the country. They're called "Supermax" prisons, where prisoners are confined without human contact for at least 23 hours every day. Should these isolation cells be considered torture?

The Takeaway is joined by Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and author of a piece in this week's New Yorker called "Annals of Human Rights". Dr. Gawande writes that we know how monkeys respond when scientists have placed them under solitary confinement: the monkeys become severely disturbed and withdrawn. It's, of course, not ethical to do similar experiments on adult human beings, but Dr. Gawande argues that is exactly what we are doing to tens of thousands of prisoners in Supermax prisons in the United States.


Atul Gawande


Sitara Nieves

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