Being held incommunicado or in solitary confinement is a form of imprisonment distinguished by living in single cells with little or no meaningful contact to other inmates, strict measures to control contraband, and the use of additional security measures and equipment. It is specifically designed for disruptive inmates that are security risks to other inmates, the prison staff, or the prison itself. It is mostly employed for violations of discipline, such as murder, hostage-taking, deadly assault, and rioting. However, it is also used as a measure of protection for inmates, whose safety is threatened by other inmates. Prison authorities consider solitary confinement an administrative placement measure, not a punishment.
Solitary confinement is colloquially referred to in American English as "the hotbox", "the hole", "AdSeg" (administrative segregation), the "SHU" (pronounced "shoe"), an acronym for "Special Housing Unit" or "Security Housing Unit"; in Australian English as "the Slot" or "the Pound"; in British English as "the block", "The Segregation Unit", or "the cooler". It has also been called prison "'segregation' and 'restrictive housing.'"
Solitary confinement has received severe criticism for having detrimental psychological effects and, to some and in some cases, constituting torture. According to a 2017 review study, "a robust scientific literature has established the negative psychological effects of solitary confinement", leading to "an emerging consensus among correctional as well as professional, mental health, legal, and human rights organisations to drastically limit the use of solitary confinement."
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