More than 200,000 women are locked in jails and prisons in the United States. These prisoners are routinely subjected to solitary confinement, spending at least 22 hours a day without human interaction for days, weeks, or months at a time. And yet, the solitary confinement of women is often overlooked.
The negative psychological impacts of solitary confinement are well known. This briefing paper highlights the unique harms and dangers of subjecting women prisoners to this isolation and makes the case for needed reforms to address these unique harms. As the number of incarcerated women climbs at an alarming pace, women and their families and communities are increasingly affected by what happens behind bars. It is critical to address the treatment of women in prison—especially those women subjected to the social and sensory deprivation of solitary confinement.