For all the controversy over whether solitary confinement should ever be used in American prisons and jails, the evidence is clear: Isolation for 23 hours a day causes severe and often irreversible psychological damage.
On Sept. 25, PHR joined a group of international human rights experts and organizations in filing an amicus brief on an appeal before the Spanish Supreme Court. The case seeks to hold accountable six senior legal advisers in the Bush administration who allegedly facilitated the torture and abuse of people detained at Guantánamo and other detention sites overseas.
Most immigrants detained in America’s sprawling immigration detention system stay for only a short time – an average of about 30 days – before being deported. But for those who choose to fight to stay in the United States – including asylum seekers, long-term undocumented residents, and green card holders who have strong family and community ties – detention can last for many months, sometimes even years.
PHR and TASSC International held a briefing at the Capitol entitled “Psychological Torture in Detention” in recognition of Torture Awareness Month. The discussion centered on the use of psychological torture on individuals in detention through practices such as prolonged indefinite detention and abusive solitary confinement.
Is it torture to waterboard a person, slam them against walls, deprive them of sleep, and force them into stress positions until they cry out for mercy? Close your eyes and imagine this is being done to your husband, your sister, or your child; it would seem to be an easy question to answer.Yet today, some are asking whether such “interrogation techniques” are effective. Here’s the answer of Senator John McCain, who was tortured: “under torture a person will say anything he thinks his captors want to hear — true or false — if he believes it will relieve his suffering.