The federal government should lead the effort to end the abuse of isolating prisoners from meaningful social interaction and other basic needs, says the Washington Post in an editorial. Instead, federal practices are clearly contributing to the “morally inexcusable overuse of prisoner isolation,” the newspaper says. Prisoner segregation is the sort of extreme punishment, “an assault on the mind, that should be reserved for a tiny number of very dangerous people,” says the Post.
As it is, thousands of U.S. prisoners live in solitary confinement for “unconscionable lengths of time.” The population of inmates in isolation in federal prisons includes both the dangerous and the seriously mentally ill. In the Post’s view, The federal government should be leading states, some of which are more punitive, and others which have adopted notably more humane practices. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons should set a better example, says the newspaper, and Congress should provide incentives for states to reduce the number of inmates they keep in segregation and improve the conditions of those they still isolate.