The July 1 editorial “The torture of solitude” rightly called for reform of the cruel, profoundly damaging and expensive practice of solitary confinement.
A good place to start would be in the federal prison system, the nation’s largest. At a Senate hearing last month, Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Charles Samuels Jr. admitted that his agency houses 7 percent of its prisoners in solitary on any given day. That rate is far higher than those of most state systems and amounts to a staggering 15,000 people. Although the bureau declines to provide comprehensive data, we know that some federal prisoners have been held in continuous solitary confinement for more than a decade.