Arizona’s state prisons overuse solitary confinement in cruel, inhumane, and illegal ways, particularly for mentally ill prisoners and juveniles as young as 14, says an Amnesty International report quoted by the Arizona Republic. The group says Arizona uses solitary confinement as a punishment more than most other states or the federal government.
Amnesty International found that some inmates are held in isolation for months and sometimes years. It called on the state to use the practice only as a last resort and only for a short duration. The state said that 3,130 inmates, or 8 percent of the prison population, were being held in the highest-security, maximum-custody units as of Friday, and most were confined alone. Amnesty said the state’s own figures show that 35 percent of inmates in maximum security were committed for non-violent crimes. The report said that 14 children ages 14 to 17 had been held in maximum custody under conditions similar to those of adults: 22 to 24 hours a day in their cells, limited exercise alone.